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Epidemic preparedness

Training participants help each other to put on protective clothing.

The most devastating Ebola outbreak in history - the West African epidemic in 2013-2016 - killed over 11,000 people. Yet it took over three months after the death of the first patient to detect it. How many lives could have been saved if the outbreak had been identified earlier?

This is the kind of challenge epidemic preparedness strives to tackle: timely detection of serious health risks and potential public health emergencies, followed by a prompt assessement and, where necessary, an appropriate response.

In an interconnected world, outbreaks can turn into global threats

Epidemic preparedness is vital in an interconnected world. Any localised outbreak of an infectious disease can potentially turn into an epidemic or even a pandemic, generating a global threat. In 2019, just three years after the epidemic in West Africa was declared over, another Ebola outbreak spread from Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country, Democratic Republic of Congo, to neighbouring Uganda. In early 2020, only two months after the outbreak of the novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-2019) in China had been detected, cases have been confirmed on every continent apart from Antarctica.

As of March 2020


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