Thursday, 25 May 2017

Ebola, Zika outbreak, most countries not ready for a pandemic--World Bank

Related imageNew report outlines how to break the cycle of ‘panic and neglect’ and finance country-level pandemic preparedness

GENEVA, May 25, 2017 – Despite progress made since the Zika and Ebola crisesa report released today by the International Working Group on Financing Preparedness (IWG), established by the World Bank, shows that most countries are not adequately prepared for a pandemic, and the world is still doing too little to finance recommended actions to strengthen pandemic preparedness.  
The report, entitled From Panic and Neglect to Investing in Health Security: Financing Pandemic Preparedness at a National Level, lays out 12 recommendations to ensure the adequate financing of the capabilities and infrastructure required to prevent, identify, contain, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Many countries chronically underinvest in critical public health functions like disease surveillance, diagnostic laboratories, and emergency operations centers, which enable the early identification and containment of outbreaks. So far, 37 countries have completed the rigorous peer-reviewed assessments, called the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), of their preparedness capacities to identify their gaps and needs. But that leaves 162 countries that have not. Moreover, only two of the countries that have completed this assessment have used the results to devise costed plans. The report urges national governments to prioritize financing preparedness in their domestic budgets, as should international donors.  
Not investing enough in pandemic preparedness puts lives at risk and is bad economics. A severe pandemic could result in millions of deaths and cost trillions of dollars, and even smaller outbreaks can cost thousands of lives and cause immense economic damage. The most conservative estimates suggest that pandemics destroy 0.1 to 1.0 percent of global GDP, on par with other global threats such as climate change. Recent economic work suggests that the annual global cost of moderately severe to severe pandemics is roughly $570 billion, or 0.7 percent of global income.

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