MJA: Is Australia prepared for the next pandemic?

20 Apr 2017

In a perspectives article in the latest Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) the authors explore Australia’s preparedness for the next infectious outbreak. Infectious diseases continue to be an ongoing threat to global health security, in our modern and global world, with new human pathogens emerging and previously “controlled” diseases re-emerging.

The lessons learned from the 2009 influenza pandemic have paved the way for a nationally agreed management plan for pandemic influenza that provides for flexible and scalable response in the health sector. Decision-making and communications across sectors and along the chain of command have been improved and our National Medical Stockpile and onshore manufacturing capacity have been strengthened.

Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases highlighted that response plans must be agile and adaptable to known and unknown pathogens and syndromes, and well-coordinated with international responses. Frameworks and response plans for communicable diseases have since been developed and four centres of research excellence funded which are focused on various aspects of enhancing our preparedness.

While all this bodes well for Australia’s ability to respond to future pandemics or communicable disease incidents of national significance, it is a job that is never done as systems must be continually reviewed, tested and refined.