The Ghana Red Cross Society, in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), has launched the 2022 World Disaster Report in Accra with a focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and preparedness.
The report indicates that preparedness ahead of COVID-19 globally was inadequate and highlights how the world can prepare more effectively for future public health emergencies.
According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest disaster in living memory.
It showed that more than 6.5 million people were confirmed to have died in less than three years with its indirect impact affecting lives in almost every community on the planet.
The report is an annual publication by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that provides a comprehensive overview of the humanitarian challenges faced by communities around the world.
It also contains a comprehensive analysis of natural and man-made disasters, including data on disaster frequency, disaster-related deaths, the number of people affected, economic losses and impact on communities and livelihoods.
The President of the Ghana Red Cross, Kwame Gyimah Akwafo, said the report served as a compass to guide stakeholders towards a future where communities would be resilient, individuals empowered and lives saved.
The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he added, had “tested our resolve, stretched resources and exposed the vulnerabilities in systems.
“We have realised that the cost of inaction far exceeds the investment required for preparedness. The time for change is upon us, and the report provides us with a roadmap for that change,” Mr Akwafo added.
As a way forward, he said the global health architecture was being reformed while governments were reassessing their laws, policies and plans.
The president urged stakeholders to influence the processes and advocate measures that prioritise disaster preparedness and response.
He said his outfit “stands ready to support these efforts with our nationwide network, our dedicated volunteers and our commitment to humanity. We are uniquely positioned to bridge the gaps”.
The disaster management manager at the Red Cross Society, Jonathan Hope, also said that the report underscored the importance of preparedness based on the principles of trust, equity and local action.
He said it also highlighted the growing impact of climate change and the increased frequency of extreme weather events, leading to humanitarian needs and increased challenges for disaster risk reduction and response efforts.
Additionally, it stresses the need for a more humanitarian, rights-based and people-centred approach to disaster response and the importance of investing in resilience building, recovery and rehabilitation to build back better.
The Director-General of NADMO, Eric Nana Agyemang Prempeh, said disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic had taught the world that there was no place for a business-as-usual approach to reducing disaster risks and vulnerabilities.
He, however, said that disaster resilience required the cooperation, contribution and intervention of all state and non-state actors at global, regional, national and community levels.
The coordinator of climate change at NADMO, Charlotte Norman, said the findings and recommendations made in the report were critical in ensuring the mistakes of the past were not repeated.
Representatives from the Ministry of Health, the University of Ghana School of Public Health, the Ghana Health Service and the IFRC, all commended the government for its proactive response towards the COVID-19 pandemic and initiatives towards strengthening the country’s preparedness for potential disasters in future.