Preparing for future global health emergencies

The Lancet
Mar 25, 2017 Volume 389 Number 10075 p1165-1272 e4

Preparing for future global health emergencies
The Lancet
On March 13–14, Chatham House and the Graduate Institute Geneva-Global Health Centre hosted a roundtable meeting on preparedness for global health crises. Representatives from WHO and the UN, including member states, global health and development agencies, foundations, academia, and non-profit initiatives shared their work and experiences on monitoring preparedness for outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

Several themes emerged. Global preparedness for outbreaks is improving in some regions, and changes to the global response architecture are underway. A broad range of sectors must be involved, from animal and livestock to human health and trade. Current monitoring and tracking of preparedness use indicators from the International Health Regulations (IHR) and a joint external evaluation process for IHR requirements has begun. Tracking for Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction is being considered. Reporting on progress is voluntary, non-existent, or overlapping, and tracking of global commitments and responsibilities is largely absent.

Views differed on how to monitor contributions to global, national, and regional preparedness and mutual accountability, but there was consensus that country-level preparedness, financing, and sharing of information, research, and health technologies are vital. Independent accountability is needed to ensure all stakeholders are acting on their commitments to help raise the profile of preparedness politically. This effort will require an ecosystem of multiple stakeholders, a range of expertise, and diverse data sources.

Chatham House and the Graduate Institute will contribute to this ecosystem through a new Monitoring and Accountability for Preparedness initiative (MAP-Global Health Crises). Harvard University and the US National Academy of Sciences have convened a meeting to advance these discussions on April 18, and meetings are planned by others. The Geneva meeting is a good first step towards identifying the stakeholder ecosystem required to ensure that countries and the global community continue to strengthen their collective preparedness for the health crises that will inevitably arise.