George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen Identifies Critical Public Health Actions to Improve Preparedness for Disease Outbreaks like COVID-19

March 19, 2020   /   by Danielle Hawkins

In an invited comment for The Lancet, George Mason University professor Dr. Kathryn H. Jacobsen warns about the “panic then forget” cycle that has been observed for previous outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases. Her comment responds to an article by Nirmal Kandel and colleagues from the World Health Organization that evaluated 18 indicators of readiness to prevent, detect, and respond to an emerging infectious disease. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, only 104 (57%) of 182 countries were ready to perform a variety of critical global health security functions at the national and subnational levels.

Jacobsen outlines several actions that can be taken in the future to improve global public health preparedness:

  1. Fully implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR) in countries of all income levels will strengthen laboratory capacity, disease surveillance, supply chain management, and other public health capabilities.
  2. Accelerating progress toward achieving the priorities of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the United Nations in 2015 will increase resilience to a variety of hazards, including pandemics.
  3. Using a One Health approach that emphasizes the interactions among humans, animals, and the environment will improve future plans for preventing, detecting, and controlling outbreaks.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent call to overcome the “panic then forget” cycle and make a sustained commitment to prioritizing global preparedness.

Schools & Programs