It is heartening that the Group of Seven leaders were expected to agree at the Ise-Shima summit (“G-7 leaders to agree on pandemic response” in the May 20 edition) on a global framework for action on pandemics, including a robust WHO-U.N. emergency contingency fund for high-risk health events and a World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.

But there is far too little attention given to pandemic prevention. Public health professionals know how to prevent local infectious disease outbreaks from becoming devastating pandemics. But to do so, they must be better equipped to anticipate and rapidly respond to such outbreaks.

It should not have been a surprise that the Ebola virus was in West Africa nor that the Zika virus continued its decade-long journey from Africa to arrive in Brazil.

In addition to response mechanisms, the G-7 leaders should invest in prevention measures such as the nascent science of pandemic prediction; vaccine research on pathogens of pandemic potential; and universal health coverage that builds the capacity of health workers and communities in prevention measures such as sanitation, mosquito control, and the identifying and reporting of unusual health events.

The business community should also assess whether their workforces and communities have prevention and response plans in place. We know how to prevent pandemics. Why don’t we?


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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