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A Congolese health worker records medical data of passengers at the airport in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 19, 2018.

Outbreaks|August 16, 2018

Are We Prepared for the Next Global Outbreak?

Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Founder and CEO Panorama


On July 24, 2018 the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo officially declared the country’s ninth outbreak of Ebola closed. Just days later, a 10th outbreak was announced. Although efforts to prepare for global epidemics have been considerable, the truth is we have not progressed far enough, fast enough, or with enough financing to prepare for global outbreaks.

I recently co-authored an article in the BMJ, "Global epidemics: How well can we cope?," which speaks to this very issue. My colleagues and I reviewed the many initiatives and organizations set up after the 2014-15 West Africa Ebola outbreak and concluded that serious gaps remain in terms of leadership, funding, and monitoring. Despite the rapid response and excellent work by WHO in recent outbreaks, I fear we are woefully unprepared for a global outbreak, especially one caused by an unknown virus. Our global systems haven’t yet been truly tested.

For an in-depth analysis, read our full paper, “Is Global Capacity to Manage Outbreaks Improving? An Analysis.”

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