"Strengthening the Detection of and Early Response to Public Health Emergencies"
Learn lessons from the West Africa Ebola Epidemic.
The international response to the West African Ebola virus disease epidemic has exemplified the great potential of the global public health community. However, the protracted early response also revealed critical gaps, which likely resulted in exacerbation of the epidemic.
It is incumbent on international health partners to learn from missteps that occurred in the early stages of the epidemic and strengthen our public health capacity to better respond to future public health emergencies.
Strategies to consider include development of a more precise system to risk stratify geographic settings susceptible to disease outbreaks, reconsideration of the 2005 International Health Regulations Criteria to allow for earlier responses to localized epidemics before they reach epidemic proportions, increasing the flexibility of the World Health Organization director general to characterize epidemics with more granularity, development of guidelines for best practices to promote partnership with local stakeholders and identify locally acceptable response strategies, and, most importantly, making good on international commitments to establish a fund for public health emergency preparedness and response.
The recent success of the global action to stem the Ebola virus disease epidemic is laudable but should not encourage complacency in our efforts to improve the global public health infrastructure.