24 October 2023, New York, USA- On 19 October 2023, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) joined forces with the Foreign Policy Association and WBB Securities along with the WBB Research Institute to host a pivotal panel discussion. Ambassador Marco Suazo, the head of UNITAR's New York office, set the stage with his welcoming remarks, emphasizing the paramount importance of the event.
Following Ambassador Suazo, Mr. Noel Lateef, the President, and CEO of the Foreign Policy Association, delved into the organization's rich history. He underscored how the FPA was established in the aftermath of the First World War, coinciding with the devastating influenza pandemic of the same era, which significantly impacted global foreign policies.
The moderator of the event, Dr. Richard Marfuggi, took the audience on a historical journey, drawing parallels between the 1889 Russian flu and the contemporary COVID-19 pandemic. He shed light on how the 1889 pandemic spurred demand for medical infrastructure, a phenomenon echoing the challenges faced during the recent crisis.
Dr Alain Gagnon, armed with his research findings, highlighted a startling aspect of the 1918 pandemic: it disproportionately affected younger individuals, a contrast to the current trend where the elderly are more vulnerable. Dr. Corinne M. Le Goff, an expert in medical technology, explored the groundbreaking mRNA technology and its application in vaccines, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the challenges.
Dr Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh delved into the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the surge in government debt. Dr. Gregory Wawro provided valuable insights into the evolution of government responses, emphasizing the role of federal involvement in health policy, a facet considerably different from historical contexts.
Dr. Steve Brozack, in a powerful conclusion, emphasized the vital aspects of pandemics that researchers must prioritize. He employed a metaphorical example, likening pandemic preparation to preventing a boiler explosion, underlining the necessity of proactive measures.
The panel culminated in a vibrant Q&A session, wherein attendees engaged with the experts. Ambassador Marco Suazo concluded the event by stressing the significance of investing in pandemic research and addressing the challenges faced by the United Nations in managing past pandemics. This collaborative effort not only enriched the understanding of historical pandemics but also illuminated a path forward for future global health crises.