World Is Not Prepared for Disease Outbreaks, Experts Warn
According to an international team of experts, the world is "grossly underprepared" for outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola. Infectious disease outbreaks often lead to widespread economic, social, and health crises and are expected to become more frequent in the years ahead.
After the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which resulted in 11,000 deaths and was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), a number of reports reviewing what went wrong and outlining ways to better manage infectious disease outbreaks in the future were published. This international research team identified key problems from these reports, highlighted recommendations for improvements from them, assessed progress made to date, and identified gaps between recommendations and actions taken.
Researchers identified three critical areas that remain largely unaddressed: strengthening compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR), improving outbreak-related research and information-sharing capabilities, and reforming the WHO and humanitarian response system. According to researchers, recent outbreaks of Zika virus and yellow fever prove we need a better worldwide system for preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious diseases.
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