Deadly disease outbreaks brings to mind Newton’s Third Law of Motion i.e. for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in so far as it applies to the downside of mobility which in the age of globalization is taken for granted. Facilitated by technology, epidemics could now cross national borders and potentially spread onto the international arena. Then, again, following Newton’s law, countries can react back.
The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) at the World Bank did a review of the World Bank Group’s interventions to the different global crises in past years, and found key lessons (10) for an effective response to the Ebola epidemic:
- Weaknesses in health systems are a major contributing factor to disease risk, especially from the lack of trained and equipped medical personnel, contract tracing capacity, sample collection and transport capacity, laboratory diagnostic capacity, and intensive care units with isolation capacity. The crisis response should support not only immediate emergency interventions but also medium-term risk reduction through public health system strengthening, recognizing that future opportunities to engage may be limited once the crisis has passed.
- Capacity building efforts should be done in a way that are relevant to more than just a single disease, and should consider from the outset means to build sustainable systems that last beyond the current emergency. This would likely include support for animal health and veterinary systems, in addition to public health systems, and for managing other zoonoses and infectious diseases.
- Preventative epidemiology, including effective disease reporting systems, is a necessary means of identifying and tracking disease outbreaks. Contact tracing of infected individuals is urgent to guide responses to outbreaks. Many serious zoonotic diseases have significant reservoirs in wild animals, such as bats or birds, and the threat level posed by these diseases may be poorly understood without surveys of wild populations in the medium term.
Read the rest on the IEG website here.