In the case of pandemics, billions of dollars in prevention are worth trillions of dollars for the cure. But how do we translate that simple insight into effective action that saves lives? Countries, influential stakeholders and institutions have largely failed to take preventative action, despite clear evidence of need following the SARS and avian influenza outbreaks. The consequences are clear, and the world is now paying the price for failing to take advantage of past opportunities to make prevention a priority.

In March 2021, 26 heads of government and the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) called on other global leaders to build a robust international health architecture to protect the world from future pandemics and other health crises. At the core of their appeal is the establishment of a new treaty intended to commit countries to better tackling diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola, influenza and SARS - and whatever new health threats lurk beyond the horizon.

We must foster an inclusive approach that brings together governments.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 14, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.