How can Southeast Asia increase its preparedness for an Ebola outbreak?

Authors: Mishal Khan, Andrew Lover and Richard Coker, NUS

Southeast Asia is no stranger to epidemics and is a hotspot for emerging disease threats. There have been serious economic and health-sector impacts from zoonoses including Nipah virus infections, SARS and highly pathogenic avian influenza (commonly known as bird flu). While these events catalysed some change in infectious disease policies within the region, many countries’ interest has since waned. Many governments, faced with numerous other pressing health priorities, have classified the threat of other emergencies as remote.

But the recent emergence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa has laid bare fragilities within international health responses on a global scale, even in countries — such as the US and Spain — where it was previously unthinkable that secondary transmission could occur within health facilities.

A new framework is necessary to assess the risk of an EVD outbreak occurring within a country if a case crosses its borders, and to act as a guide on how to increase country-level preparedness. The framework, which builds on a rapid assessment toolkit for communicable diseases, is designed to highlight that the effectiveness of a country’s response to an outbreak is dependent on a combination of broad (horizontal) …continue reading