London: An independent panel of 19 global experts has called for critical reforms to prevent the future pandemics.
The group, convened by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has issued a hard-hitting analysis of the global response to the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The report offers 10 major reform proposals to prevent future such catastrophes, with emphasis on: preventing major disease outbreaks; responding to outbreaks; the production and sharing of research data, knowledge, and technologies; and ways to improve the governance of the global health system, with a focus on the World Health Organization (WHO).
The members concluded that while the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak engendered acts of outstanding courage and solidarity, it also caused immense human suffering, fear and chaos, largely unchecked by high level political leadership or reliable and rapid institutional responses.
The Panel is chaired by Peter Piot, who said that people need to strengthen core capacities in all countries to detect, report and respond rapidly to small outbreaks, in order to prevent them from becoming large-scale emergencies.
The report's 10 recommendations provide a roadmap to strengthen the global system for outbreak prevention and response:
1. Develop a global strategy to invest in, monitor and sustain national core capacities
2. Strengthen incentives for early reporting of outbreaks and science-based justifications for trade and travel restrictions
3. Create a unified WHO Center with clear responsibility, adequate capacity, and strong lines of accountability for outbreak response
4. Broaden responsibility for emergency declarations to a transparent, politically- protected Standing Emergency Committee
5. Institutionalise accountability through an independent commission for disease outbreak prevention and response
6. Develop a framework of rules to enable, govern and ensure access to the benefits of research
7. Establish a global fund to finance, accelerate and prioritise R&D
8. Sustain high-level political attention through a Global Health Committee of the Security Council
9. A new deal for a more focused, appropriately-financed WHO
10. Good governance of WHO through decisive, timebound reform and assertive leadership
The study is published in The Lancet.