Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Call for independent monitoring of disease outbreak preparedness

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 24 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2269

Rapid Response:

Re: Call for independent monitoring of disease outbreak preparedness

At the World Health Assembly yesterday, the WHO and the World Bank announced the launch of a Global Preparedness Monitoring Board. This excellent initiative has potential to significantly improve health security. For the announcement, which came just several hours before our article was published, please see the WHO News Release, Geneva, May 24, 2018: "WHO and World Bank Group join forces to strengthen global health security," .

According to the WHO News Release, this new official mechanism will carry out "stringent independent monitoring and regular reporting of preparedness to tackle outbreaks, pandemics, and other emergencies with health consequences." The Board will be responsible for the production of annual reports. It will "advocate at the highest levels for health crisis preparedness." Further, it will "ensure that all stakeholders, at all levels and across all sectors, keep these issues on the political agenda and are held accountable for making the world better prepared to respond to outbreaks and emergencies with health consequences."

"The Board will be co-chaired by Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former WHO Director-General, and Mr Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies." It will include "political leaders, heads of UN agencies and world-class health experts, serving in their individual, independent capacities."

Effective and efficient tackling of outbreaks always requires acting early, at the source of the contagion, because with an exponential rate of spread, the contagion can quickly outpace a response. One Health approaches are therefore needed since some 75 percent of pathogens with pandemic potential are now zoonotic (of animal origin). Moreover, One Health approaches have been shown to be both effective and efficient; see World Bank Group (2018). Operational framework for strengthening human, animal and environmental public health systems at their interface, .

Competing interests: No competing interests

25 May 2018
Olga Jonas
Harvard Global Health Institute
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA USA