New Analysis Identifies Gaps in Global Readiness to Fight a Pandemic

NEW YORK – April 16, 2018 – A first-of-its-kind analysis published by EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit working at the intersection of animal, environmental, and human health on a global scale, finds significant gaps in the global community’s readiness to prevent, fight, and recover from catastrophic public health events such as pandemics. The first end-to-end review of what is needed in order to better ensure global public health security, and mapped to global efforts to meet those needs, EcoHealth Alliance unveiled Building Resilience to Biothreats at an event featuring U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec earlier this month. The report is now available to the public.

"The Ebola outbreak in West Africa took the world by surprise," EcoHealth Alliance Executive Vice President for Health and Policy and co-author Dr. William Karesh said. "But it also showed us firsthand how quickly disease outbreaks can go from regional events to global problems. We have to work together as a global community to neutralize these threats."

Building Resilience to Biothreats categorizes biodefense activity into four pillars: prevent, detect, respond, and recover. It finds that two in particular–prevent and recover–are massively overlooked. The prevention pillar includes systems, policies, and procedures which serve to determine, assess, avoid, mitigate, and reduce threats by reducing vulnerability and exposure. Recover seeks to restore and strengthen normal operations following outbreaks. The report also finds that multisectoral participation–especially with respect to the defense and environmental communities–is not yet a reality. These vulnerabilities place the entire enterprise at risk.

The report also suggests solutions for covering these gaps.

"An increasingly small world–where a person, or pathogen, can travel nearly anywhere in a day–requires increasingly global solutions," EcoHealth Alliance Senior Health and Policy Specialist Dr. Ellen Carlin said. Dr. Carlin is also one of five co-authors of the report. "Our suggestions aim to engage stakeholders from multiple sectors in order to combine strengths, rather than silo them."

More than 1 billion people are infected each year with an infectious disease. In addition to their human toll, outbreaks can have significant and lasting impacts on the global economy. It’s estimated that SARS–the first pandemic of the 21st century–cost as much as $55 billion.

About EcoHealth Alliance:
Building on 45 years of groundbreaking science, EcoHealth Alliance is the premier nonprofit organization committed to a One Health approach to track the migration of deadly viruses from animals into humans. EcoHealth Alliance research has led to major breakthroughs on the origins and spread of new and emerging diseases like Ebola, SARS, MERS, and Nipah virus. EcoHealth Alliance works globally in hotspot regions where the threat of outbreaks is highest. Through innovations in research, training, capacity building, and policy initiatives, we develop tools and interventions to prevent pandemics and promote conservation.
Press contact: Robert Kessler, (646) 868-4711 or kessler@ecohealthalliance.org.

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