Epidemic Preparedness - Prevent Epidemics

Epidemic Preparedness

Rendering of the 2019-nCoV virion. Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/REUTERS

Epidemic Preparedness

COVID-19 reminded the world that a disease threat in one country can be a threat to all. Countries that prioritize and invest in systems to find, stop, and prevent epidemics are better prepared – saving lives and protecting economies.

Scientist in lab with test tubes
Woman receiving vaccination

Epidemic Response

How quickly and effectively countries respond to a new outbreak matters. Those that use their preparedness systems, can trust and rely on leaders, communicate clearly and engage with their people and use data-driven policies to slow the spread are most likely to save lives.

Scientist in lab with test tubes
Celebration for man escorted out of hospital in a wheelchair
Woman receiving vaccination

Prepare & Respond

A country’s sustained investment and prioritization of preparedness for disease threats and readiness to act when outbreaks strike can fundamentally alter the trajectory of an epidemic, determine the number of lives lost and dollars spent. All countries have an opportunity to improve their preparedness and responses.

To Save Lives

Core Systems for Preparedness

The Key 7 ReadyScore factors are the 7 technical areas that the Resolve to Save Lives team focuses on. These 7 areas are the foundational technical areas for epidemic preparedness that contribute to health system strengthening.

  1. National Laboratory System

    Country has a national laboratory system to test disease specimens and confirm outbreaks.

  2. Real-Time Surveillance

    Country can find disease outbreaks quickly.

  3. Workforce Development

    Country has a capable workforce to find, stop and prevent outbreaks.

  4. Risk Assessment and Planning

    Country has done preparedness planning and risk assessment for public health emergencies.

  5. Emergency Response Operations

    Country has emergency system to find and stop outbreaks.

  6. Risk Communication

    Countries can listen and exchange information between experts and the public effectively so that healthcare workers and the public can take protective measures.

  7. National Legislation, Policy and Financing

    Country has legislation, policy, and financing in place to support overall preparedness for prevention of epidemics.

What Is the ReadyScore?

The ReadyScore was created by Resolve to Save Lives to show how strong a country’s epidemic preparedness systems are. The score indicates preparedness levels using data from the World Health Organization’s Joint External Evaluation (JEE). Similar to a report card, there are 19 areas—the 7 key factors and 12 more that build on them—of preparedness and response that are scored, first by a group of national experts and then by an external group of international advisors. The ReadyScore is the average score of the 19 preparedness areas. The ReadyScore relays five levels of preparedness:

Two Country Comparison

In order to be ready for the next disease threat countries must have strong preparedness systems and strong action—represented below by COVID-19 response scores. Compare a select group of country examples.

United States

Stronger Preparedness, Weak Action

was better prepared for epidemics. They had functioning systems to find, stop and prevent health threats, but struggled with COVID-19 response.

87 % Prepare Score
36 % i Response Index

Select another country to compare

United States
  • United States
  • Italy
  • Switzerland
  • South Korea


Weaker Preparedness, Strong Action

has work to do to improve their preparedness systems. But when COVID-19 arrived, they mounted a strong response.

45 % Prepare Score
77 % i Response Index

Select another country to compare

  • Senegal
  • Ghana
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya

We used the COVID-19 Global Response Index, developed by Foreign Policy, as a proxy response indicator. See the full index here.

Epidemics That Didn’t Happen

As the world continues efforts to stop COVID-19 and better prepare for the next disease threat, these stories serve as a reminder that we can do better. Read more