Since its initial identification in China just two months ago, the novel coronavirus outbreak has grown exponentially, affecting more than 20 countries and making a significant impact on health, trade, travel and the global economy. As countries are taking action to prevent the disease from spreading further, concerned citizens and policymakers are asking the question: how prepared are we for a deadly pandemic?
Released in October 2019, The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive, global assessment measuring the capacity of 195 countries around the world to address health security risks, from influenza to bioweapons. The index provides insights on global and country-level capacity to address both the ongoing coronavirus outbreak as well as any future events.
Whilst the study finds that the world is not fully prepared to address an epidemic or pandemic event, it also highlights specific areas where countries can improve their capacity to address future epidemics. For example:
- Practice makes perfect. Regular testing of outbreak response plans can ensure health personnel are prepared, and any weak points have been identified and addressed prior to an emergency. However, less than 5% of countries require annual cross-governmental epidemic emergency exercises.
- Animal health is human health. More than half of emerging infectious diseases are spread from animals. Initial studies suggest that the 2019 novel coronavirus originated in bats, similar to SARS and MERS. However, animal and human health systems often operate in silos; only 30% of countries indicate they have mechanisms for data sharing between human, animal and wildlife surveillance systems.
Interested in learning how prepared your country is, and what areas are in need of additional funding and attention? Visit the GHS Index website to find the full details on country strengths, weaknesses and an analytical report with global key findings and recommendations.