What Countries Are Doing to Address the Next Pandemic

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Nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic, the worst worldwide outbreak since the Spanish flu over 100 years ago, the Omicron variant of the virus is in retreat in most parts of the world.

As countries reassess their response to the pandemic, many of them are pondering how they will react to the next outbreak.

24/Tempo has compiled a list of what countries are doing to address diseases that could become epidemic or pandemic, based on the Global Health Security Index, an assessment of global health security capabilities in 195 countries prepared by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Additional information was obtained from a variety of sources, including the BBC, Brookings, King’s College London, Medical News Today, the World Health Organization, and the CDC. (These are the worst epidemics and pandemics in history.)

Besides collaboration and cooperation between nations, countries are looking to create clear decision-making entities, strengthen surveillance measures, improve delivery of vaccines, be more transparent with information, dedicate more funds for healthcare, identify and isolate infected areas, and develop a centralized database of a country’s health records, among other initiatives. 

Because of previous pandemics, many East Asian nations were, in general, better prepared for COVID-19 than other countries. According to a report from the World Health Organization, 22 out of 27 countries in the Western Pacific have national plans for pandemic preparedness. WHO reported that 92% of these countries conduct outpatient surveillance for influenza-like illness, and 29 of them have shared data through FluID, a global influenza data-sharing platform. (Read how COVID fatality rates compare with those for other diseases.)

Even though many in the West predicted catastrophe for Africa, that continent fared much better than most of the world. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention created the Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus to coordinate the response to the pandemic a month before WHO officially declared it, and before the first case of COVID was detected in Africa. A meeting of 55 ministers of health across the continent agreed on a strategy of preventing transmission and mitigating community spread to prevent burdening stressed healthcare systems.

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