The 2013 West African Ebola crisis exposed two weaknesses: the inability of the international community to rapidly mobilize an effective response and a lack of adequate domestic health care systems for epidemic preparedness response. While a number of proposals have addressed gaps in the international response, none have yet addressed the remaining issue of building adequate domestic health systems. Although the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 2005 International Health Regulations require that all member countries develop and implement a core set of health system capacities, funding constraints have prevented many low-income countries from meeting these requirements.

This brief proposes that the World Bank, in collaboration with the WHO, should develop a Pandemic Prevention Program to assist low-income countries in building strong and robust health systems. This program would assist low-income countries in meeting their international obligations, while ensuring sustainable national ownership in order to prevent the next infectious disease epidemic.

The CIGI Graduate Fellows program at the Balsillie School of International Affairs provides students with mentorship opportunities from senior scholars and policy makers. The program consists of research assistantships, policy brief writing workshops, interactive learning sessions with senior experts from CIGI and publication opportunities. Working under the direction of a project leader, graduate fellows conduct research in one of CIGI’s program areas. This series presents those policy briefs that have met CIGI’s publications standards.