Ebola and International Health Regulations - How can we be better prepared next time?
Trygve Ottersen, Steven Hoffman, and Gaëlle Groux recently published an article in the American Journal of Law & Medicine entitled “Ebola Again Shows the International Health Regulations are Broken: What Can Be Done Differently for the Next Time?”
Opportunities to act on the lessons from H1N1 were woefully missed before the 2014–15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The authors suggest what can now be done differently for the lessons learned from Ebola to be better prepared for the inevitable next epidemic. Illustration: colourbox
The objective of the article was twofold. First, the researchers sought to compare the lessons learned from H1N1 and Ebola for reforming the International Health Regulations in order to test the hypothesis that they are similar. Second, they sought to examine the barriers to implementing these lessons and to identify strategies for overcoming those barriers.
The authors found that the lessons from H1N1 and Ebola are indeed similar, and that opportunities to act on lessons from H1N1 were woefully missed. The authors identified many political barriers to global collective action and implementation of lessons for the International Health Regulations; barriers linked to political power, ideas, the political context, and the specific characteristics of the issue addressed. On that basis, they describe strategies to overcome these barriers, which will hopefully be deployed now to reform the International Health Regulations before the policy window following Ebola closes, and before the inevitable next epidemic comes.
We conclude by flagging how the emerging threat of the Zika virus underscores that we have no time to waste, says Trygve Ottersen.