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Press release

New Website for Francophone Africa Shows Most Countries are not Prepared for an Epidemic

New York, USA - October 17, 2019

PreventEpidemics.org Highlights Gaps in Preparedness and Encourages Action to Save Lives

The world will face another epidemic, but most countries are not ready to find, stop, and prevent its spread. A website that was just launched in French, PreventEpidemics.org, spotlights gaps in preparedness and highlights actions countries, donors, activists, and organizations can take to fill them. Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, first released PreventEpidemics.org in English in 2018. Now, the information is available in French to facilitate understanding of preparedness gaps and strengths among journalists and advocates in Francophone Africa.

Screenshot of new PreventEpidemics French website
new PreventEpidemics French website

The website is the first to provide advocacy tools based on each country’s progress towards epidemic preparedness, and a single number ⁠— the ReadyScore®⁠— that details how prepared countries are to find, stop and prevent epidemics. The site also features an interactive map showing real time international flights and outbreak alerts overlaid on ReadyScores.

“By the end of this year, nearly 120 countries will have completed a rigorous, transparent assessment of how prepared they are for an epidemic, but there has been too little progress closing life-threatening gaps,” says Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives and former US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director. “It’s not a matter of if there will be another global epidemic, but when. It’s time for the global community and countries to step up and improve preparedness.”

Resolve to Save Lives partners with countries to help them step up their preparedness through technical assistance, resource mobilization and catalyzing political will.

“How can we prevent a nurse in DRC from contracting measles, or a child in Senegal from getting malaria?” said Marine Buissonniere, Senior Adviser, Resolve to Save Lives. “Our website not only communicates the risk that epidemics will not be effectively managed, but, most importantly, encourages action to reduce these risks.”

A key feature of PreventEpidemics.org is the ReadyScore, a measure of country preparedness based on existing data from the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), an external assessment developed by the World Health Organization and partner organizations to help countries find and close gaps in epidemic preparedness. ReadyScore uses JEE data to calculate a numerical score — from 0 to 100 — representing a country’s ability to prepare for and respond to an epidemic. These scores can drive action at the country and global level by motivating countries to step up preparedness overall and by specific area.

In Francophone Africa, there are a range of ReadyScores, from Senegal with 45 to the Central African Republic with 26, and each country has unique strengths and gaps. Senegal has strong immunization activities but can improve coordination of outbreak response. DRC scored 35 and is working to develop a trained workforce but struggling with preparedness. PreventEpidemics.org provides detailed information for countries and allows users to see how their own ReadyScore compares to a list of their neighbors.

PreventEpidemics.org provides a geo-targeted homepage, advocacy tools including detailed global- and country-level data, highlights of countries’ strengths and gaps, and action plans to engage decision makers to improve epidemic preparedness.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Resolve to Save Lives expert, please contact ebradford@rtsl.org.

Additional information:

The ReadyScore consolidates 19 areas of epidemic preparedness assessed during a JEE. Within those areas, nearly 50 factors are assessed, such as whether a country has a national laboratory system to diagnose diseases and the capacity of its public health workforce to find, stop and prevent epidemics. The JEE rates each of these indicators on a scale of 1 – 5. One is “no capacity” and is coded red. Two and three indicate the “need to build capacity” (limited or developed capacity) and are coded yellow. Four and five indicate “sustainable capacity” and are in the desired green band. The ReadyScore is the average score of the nineteen area scores, placed on a scale of 0 to 100.

About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and housed at Vital Strategies, which works in 73 countries with the vision of a world in which every person is protected by a strong public health system. To find out more, visit www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. The Vital Strategies team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.