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.