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10 Ways to Prevent Global Health Crises

The Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola recently made recommendations to prevent future global health crises based on the outcomes of the West African Ebola outbreak last year.

The outbreak killed over 11,000 people in 2014, including health workers. Experts blame the slow response, lack of leadership and lack of proper training for a large number of deaths caused by Ebola.

The panel’s report was published online by The Lancet, a medical journal. Here are their recommendations:

  • The global community should come up with a strategy for strengthening health systems, including funding to help developing countries do so.
  • The WHO should publicly commend countries that report disease outbreaks promptly and shame those that delay reporting. Financial incentives to compensate countries for losses linked to transparent disease reporting should be created.
  • The WHO should set up a permanent outbreak response center with a guaranteed budget. It should report directly to the director general.
  • The WHO should name a permanent emergency committee of experts to advise it on the threat posed by outbreaks. The committee should be able to convene itself and should consider adopting a graded system of warnings. Currently, emergency committees can only declare that something is or isn’t a global emergency.
  • The UN should create an independent accountability commission that assesses response to major disease outbreaks.

Photo: Pixabay

  • Governments, NGOs, the scientific community, and industry should develop rules for conducting research during an outbreak and a program for accelerating research between crises.
  • Research funders should set up a facility to finance development of vaccines, drugs, disease tests, and other medical necessities for diseases which the pharmaceutical industry won’t develop for on its own.
  • A global health committee should be set up as part of the UN Security Council to bring high-level attention to health issues and crises.
  • The WHO should return its focus to its core functions, concentrating on efforts that only the WHO can undertake.
  • The WHO’s executive board should establish a freedom of information policy; countries should stop earmarking the funding they provide the WHO, and countries should demand a WHO director general strong enough to stand up to the most powerful governments.

The proposed changes to responding to global health crises were categorized into five themes: preventing disease outbreaks, responding to outbreaks, monitoring and sharing data, garnering knowledge and technology through research and, lastly, global coordination to prevent and respond to outbreaks.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: STAT, The Lancet, BBC
Photo: World Affairs