Intended for healthcare professionals


Is the world ready for the next pandemic threat?

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 09 August 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3296
  1. Wim Van Damme, professor in public health1,
  2. Willem van de Put, research fellow1,
  3. Narayanan Devadasan, director2,
  4. Juan Antonio Ricarte, health policy intern1,
  5. Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director3
  1. 1Outbreak Research Team, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
  2. 2Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru, India
  3. 3Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
  1. Correspondence to W Van Damme wvdamme{at}

Local successes in sporadic outbreaks mask serious gaps in global planning

Growing antimicrobial resistance combined with the risk of infectious diseases transform the global health agenda. New cases of Ebola reported last week in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after apparently successful control of an outbreak in May12 revive memories of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa n 2014-16. An equally alarming outbreak of Nipah virus occurred in Kerala, India, earlier this year.3 Although the Nipah outbreak was contained locally and quite rapidly, both recent outbreaks of Ebola in DRC underline the importance of avoiding neglect and complacency after a serious epidemic has been resolved.4

In a linked article, Leigh and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.k3254) analyse whether the global community has improved its capacity to collectively manage such outbreaks.5 They describe how, despite various initiatives, we are still far from secure, with gaps in funding, monitoring global capacity, and global leadership. Jonas and colleagues recently called for a global independent mechanism to monitor outbreak preparedness to break the usual cycle …

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