Newswise — The leader of the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized the need for global readiness in addressing a disease outbreak with a potential even greater than COVID-19. This statement came following the launch of a worldwide network by the UN agency to closely monitor and respond to threats posed by various diseases.

During his address at the World Health Assembly (WHA) held in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, May 22, the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, cautioned that the conclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic as a global health emergency did not imply that the global health risks had subsided.

Addressing the annual decision-making meeting of the World Health Organization's 194 member states, he stressed that the possibility of another variant arising and leading to fresh waves of illness and fatalities persists.

Furthermore, the persistent risk of another pathogen emerging, possessing an even greater capacity for devastation, continues to loom.

Commencing the 76th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) on Saturday, May 20, the WHO inaugurated the International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN). This global initiative leverages genomics to facilitate the detection and timely response to emerging disease threats.

Genetic data derived from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens responsible for diseases plays a vital role in enabling scientists to identify and monitor diseases, as well as in developing effective treatments and vaccines. This information provides insights into the infectiousness and lethality of specific strains, as well as their patterns of transmission.

During the launch, Tedros emphasized that the objective of the network is to provide every country with access to pathogen genomic sequencing and analytics as an integral component of their public health system.

The IPSN Secretariat, which will be housed within the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, will serve as a collaborative platform uniting genomics and data analysis experts from various regions across the globe. This inclusive network will comprise governments, philanthropic foundations, multilateral organizations, civil society, academia, and the private sector.