Parallel Session 2.1

Beyond MERS and Zika: Are we Prepared for the Next Big Epidemic?

2 February 2018

10:00 - 12:00 hrs.


Over the past decade, Ebola, MERS, highly pathogenic avian influenza and, more recently, the Zika virus outbreaks have demonstrated the ability of epidemics to devastate communities through both extraordinary losses of life and severe morbidity as well as adverse social and economic impacts that jeopardize global health security. These recent disease outbreaks have not only made evident countries’ lack of preparedness to adequately prevent, detect and respond to epidemics, but also the extent to which measures must cut across governance levels and all sectors of society in order to truly be effective. Furthermore, only one third of countries have met their commitments under the International Health Regulations (IHR). And although several tools and frameworks have been developed (by WHO, USAID, CDC, OIE, etc.) to provide guidance for countries to develop country epidemic preparedness and response plans, these are generally disease specific, have not been updated or tested through routine exercises, remain largely underfunded and are, therefore, not fully operational. As a result, many countries remain unprepared to prevent, detect, mitigate risks and respond to health threats and disease epidemics before they cause devastating consequences in the livelihoods of communities and the economies of countries.


  • To present country experiences on strengthening IHR core capacities, including efforts for effective coordination, partnership models and financing mechanisms to strengthen health security.
  • To identify critical elements needed for sustainable, inclusive, and effective preparedness at country level and propose solutions for more effective epidemic preparedness guidance.
  • To discuss gaps in the current guidance and frameworks that need to be filled to develop country epidemic preparedness and response plans.



John Nkengasong


Africa CDC

United States of America


Casey Barton Behravesh

Director, One Health Office

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

United States of America

Cassandra Kelly-Cirino

Director of Emerging Threats



Hamid Jafari

Principal Deputy Director, Center for Global Health

United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

United States of America

Isabella Ayagah

IHR Focal Point

Ministry of Health


Itai Mupanduki

Public Health Consultant

Independent Consultant

United States of America

Ronello Abila

OIE Subregional Office Representative

World Organisation for Animal Health


Tran Dac Phu

General Director, General Department of Preventive Medicine

Ministry of Health

Viet Nam