In 2014, as international health leaders and policy makers launched the Global Health Security Agenda to meet increasingly urgent needs to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks around the world, the emergence of the Ebola crisis in West Africa underscored the immediacy of their mission. Spreading from a forest in Guinea to sweep across neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia before touching down in Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Europe and the United States, the outbreak demonstrated the consequences of failures to recognize the pandemic potential of infectious diseases in a progressively interconnected world.
A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month documenting progress and persisting challenges in building medical surveillance and response capacities in countries around the world since, tells the continuing story of the impact of the Ebola crisis on public health preparedness.
Covering a span of efforts that include improving health workforce capacities in Uganda, tracking whooping cough outbreaks in Latin America, assessing laboratory capacities in Asia, and improving detection of zoonotic diseases globally, the report, a Global Health Security focused supplement to the agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, covers changes left by Ebola, with sections headed Prevent, Detect, Respond.
The outbreak altered the rules for restricting travel from applying to those with a confirmed or suspected tuberculosis, or confirmed measles case, to applying to those with high risk exposure to diseases of public health impact, an article in the Prevent section recounts. It was a change that offered better opportunities to control and confine outbreaks, but also highlighted the need for improved systems — to both impose and remove restricted travel status.
The outbreak also highlighted needs for surveillance training, which, carried out in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Mali led to quicker reporting and better quality data, described in an article in the Detect section.
And, an outbreak that led to the deaths of more than 500 health workers also led to training in safe practices that included using protective equipment, for 570 workers in the first year of the outbreak.
The EID supplement on Global Health Security is downloadable here.