‘Leaders at all levels hold the key’ to preparedness according to experts who have established urgent actions to ready the world for pandemics.
In the wake of the Ebola crisis, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board was established last year. The board aims to ensure global preparedness for health emergencies. Details of seven urgent actions that will increase preparedness for pandemics are given in the board’s first annual report.
The report, entitled ‘A World at Risk’, focuses on pandemics and epidemics and incorporates information from seven review papers written by world experts and leading institutions on the challenges of global preparedness.
‘The world needs to proactively establish the systems needed to detect and control potential disease outbreaks’ according to the report. The actions it details include heads of government committing to preparedness and renewing efforts to integrate preparedness into economic risk assessments by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The report also gives indicators that can be used to determine the progress made on these actions in a year’s time.
‘There is a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people and wiping out nearly 5% of the world’s economy,’ say co-chairs Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland (former Prime Minister of Norway and former WHO Director-General) and Elhadj As Sy (Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies). ‘A global pandemic on that scale would be catastrophic, creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity. The world is not prepared’.
However, the report also notes that progress has been made in preparing the world for a health emergency. ‘Timeliness in detection of outbreaks has increased significantly’ it states, and the Health Emergencies Programme which was established by the WHO following the Ebola crisis has ‘already made a significant difference’ to a global emergency response.
While these are notable improvements to the global state of preparedness, the report clearly states that more is needed urgently and lays out an expected timeline for progress on the seven action points.