The capability of the public health and health care systems, communities, and individuals, to prevent, protect against, quickly respond to, and recover from health emergencies, particularly those whose scale, timing, or unpredictability threatens to overwhelm routine capabilities.
(Nelson and others on public health emergency)
In today’s strong pandemic environment, every country tries hard to tackle the spreading challenges, that is preventing the cross-border spread of the Coronavirus while keeping its population as healthy as possible. This particular virus reveals the dramatic and ongoing rise of infections posed within the framework of the pandemic focusing attention on the need for a global response. We hear the terms disaster management, public health emergency, and disaster cycle security used very often and we estimate interchangeably. We have a brief idea of their meanings but not much about how they are related.
Cooperation is not something new since countries have long ago realized they must share know-how, technologies, and materials, and resources as well as joint surveillance, prevention, and response processes, to effectively activate and respond. They have also realized they must build a better response network, emphasizing the need for collaboration between them and respond globally to potential international health emergencies. But is the sudden appearance and rapid international spread of Covid-19 together with their combined health and economic effects that revealed the problem of existing response systems forcing countries to find new ways of cooperation?
Important to know is that a public health emergency may be declared when the health consequences of a newly emerged situation have the potential to overwhelm routine community capabilities and resources to address them. In the aftermath of many recent disasters or public health threats, preparedness has become central to the public health mission at the national level. The point is that emergence of deadly viruses facilitated by globalization and international travel, as well as the threat of biological terrorism, have spotlighted the need for globalized heightened vigilance and increased capacity to recognize and manage public health risks and emergencies.
Our response plans in disasters of any phase aim to reduce the vulnerability of people and specifically to rapidly spreading health risks, particularly those that cross international borders. The dynamic threat pattern triggering disasters has a serious impact on every health care system. These implications together with serious danger to life and health of the people seized the attention of the public health community. The recorded response stories from disasters serve now to us as a stark reminder of society’s vulnerability to a public health disaster and threat and show the need for efficient emergency planning. The authorities around the world responded positively by adopting legislation on the enhancement of the national preparedness system. We may infer that improved laboratory, surveillance, and emergency response network together with sufficient provision of pharmaceuticals and vaccines form the ideal infrastructure.
It is not an easy thing to do due to the scales, range, and complexity of these modern challenges to health security. The new cooperative framework calls for new approaches of comparable dimension and strength taking into account the protection of the world from transnational health threats. Global public health perspective and networking in global public health infrastructure is demanded. To achieve the highest possible level of global public health security, it is recommended that the full implementation of existing international health regulations by all countries is followed together with stronger international disease control programs and surveillance networks. Marked inefficiencies triggered increased concerns in the aftermath of terrorist events and amid concerns about pandemic influenza and other infectious diseases revealed that public health response and not only is centered on an all-hazards approach and orientation.
Designing the response, we are forced to take into account not only the existing threat but also others possibly appearing and reemerging new infectious diseases creating a new pattern of threats. Disaster management actions that are strongly related to public health security together with concerns to nuclear radiological chemical or biological agents suggest new advanced ways countries must more closely and more efficiently cooperate. Though society has made huge progress in the fight against infectious disease things are getting complicated since scientists now realize they might fight in a future worldwide epidemic involving a killer virus. It is indeed a nightmare since many evolutions such as the increase in plane traffic, have resulted in contagious illnesses spreading farther and faster than ever. Health threats such as the anthrax letters in the United States and the illegal dumping of chemical waste in the Ivory Coast show among others the potential of bioterrorism. On the other hand, the emergence of coronavirus triplet (SARS, MERS, Covid-19) has turned earth into a vast laboratory while not only the international mobility of people but also the global traffic of goods and products can have serious health consequences.
As we said before it is not an easy task because recent events have shown, global public health security corresponds to a complex, costly, and information-intense pattern. The procedures linked require strong national public health leadership and infrastructure, cross-border collaboration, and others. Not to forget that well-functioning laboratories and service-delivery systems, capacity to sustain interventions and ability to respond to unexpected events must be available and ready to activate. Not an easy task but necessary because Investment in these elements will strengthen global public health security but not only. Public health preparedness planning is considered a multidisciplinary endeavor.
A well-designed public health preparedness system must create the appropriate environment for response activities such as regulating environmental conditions, planning for emergency medical and public health response capabilities. Besides that, routine activities such as well-planned epidemiological investigations, fast and accurate laboratory analyses, and preparing the framework of proper provision of emergency medical treatment will help the authorities be better organized during a disaster event.
It is important to note that experience from disasters where it is evident that a community is threatened, the vast majority of the citizens of this community will volunteer with a sense of solidarity. People tend to involve in public response activities such as mitigation interventions. Social distancing and the prohibition of mass gatherings are among the plans revealing that people during a pandemic may accept temporarily suspending of some of their ordinary civil liberties and freedoms.