Is the world ready for the next major disease outbreak? These researchers don't think so

A team of international researchers, writing in The BMJ, note that the world is not appropriately prepared for infectious disease outbreaks that are likely to remain a common occurrence in years to come.

The researchers focused on the global response to the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. They examined seven major post-Ebola reports and found that a more efficient and quicker response could prevented most of the 11,000 deaths that resulted from the outbreak.

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Specifically, the researchers found that though the reports were different in terms of scope and emphasis, the key issues uncovered were the same. The reports called for action in following areas:

•    Strengthening compliance with the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations
•    Improving disease outbreak-related research and sharing practices
•    Reforming the WHO and broader humanitarian response system

The researchers also found that while efforts have been made to address these issues, progress has been mixed. For example, while the WHO has instituted reform efforts, these have been focused on operational issues rather than more pressing institutional issues.

"Ebola, and more recently Zika and yellow fever, have demonstrated that we do not yet have a reliable or robust global system for preventing, detecting, and responding to disease outbreaks," the researchers wrote. "We will not be ready for the next outbreak without deeper and more comprehensive change."

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