The world is still not prepared for future pandemics, and most countries are not prepared for small disease outbreaks, despite living with Covid-19 for two years, research has shown.
All countries lack the “critical capacities” to respond effectively to Covid and, according to the Global Health Security Index (GSH Index), are no longer prepared for future epidemics and pandemics than they were in 2019.
Compiled by the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the index measures how well prepared the world’s 195 countries are for health emergencies.
The United States turned out to be the country best prepared for future health emergencies, closely followed by Australia and Finland, while the United Kingdom ranks seventh.
Even so, the index found that countries at all “income levels” remained “fundamentally weak” in preparing for future emergencies, despite the fact that the world had battled the Covid-19 pandemic for the past two years.
The Global Health Security Index found that all countries lack the “critical capacities” to respond effectively to future pandemics. None of the 195 countries ranked in preparation for the top of the five levels (color-coded above)
The report said, “The 2021 GHS Index continues to show that all countries are still lacking some critical capacity, hampering their ability to respond effectively to Covid-19 and reducing their preparedness for future epidemic and pandemic threats.”
In the index, carried out from August 2020 to June 2021, no country in the world ranks in the top of the five levels, namely 80.1 to 100, with 100 representing the “strongest capacities in terms of health security”.
The average country score in 2021 was only 38.9 out of 100, which according to the results is “essentially unchanged from 2019”.
Four of the six GHS index categories had an average score of less than 40, placing them in the bottom three of the five categories.
The highest scoring region, which turned out to be the place best prepared for a future epidemic, was the United States, which ranked just short of first place with a score of 75.9.
The United States was the country best prepared for health emergencies, closely followed by Australia and Finland, while the United Kingdom came in seventh
Despite the country’s high score, it was still 0.3 below the United States’ value on the 2019 GHS index, showing that the region has not improved since the Covid pandemic.
The report also found that the populations of an incredible 161 countries have low to moderate public trust in their governments, with the United States having one of the highest levels of trust.
In the overall standings, the USA followed closely by Australia with 71.1 points, while Finland came third with 70.9.
Canada, which finished fourth, improved 2.2 compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic index and received an overall score of 69.8 in the 2021 GHS index.
The UK ranks seventh in the second highest class with a score of 67.2, down 1.1 from its score two years ago.
Other countries that also made it into the top ten were Sweden, South Korea, Germany, Thailand and Slovenia.
Despite being in the top ten, the GHS index still found that every single country is still unable to respond effectively to health emergencies, and none secure a place at the top tier.
Although the countries have built up new capacities to deal with the Covid pandemic, the GHS index came to the conclusion that these were all temporary and short-term measures to specifically combat the coronavirus, which are therefore not “fully recognized” in the report became.
The index found that despite coping with the Covid crisis, every country is unable to respond effectively to pandemics (file photo of people with face masks in Dortmund, Germany).
The Index added, “To earn full marks, a country must demonstrate that it is building sustainable capacities that can be applied to a range of disease threats.”
The area where countries are least prepared is preventing the emergence of new pathogens like the coronavirus that caused the ongoing pandemic.
The global average for this category was just 28.4 out of 100, while the report found that 113 countries “paid little to no attention” to diseases transmitted from animals to humans.
The survey also found that 155 of the 195 countries had not allocated funds to prepare for a pandemic or epidemic in the past three years.
Meanwhile, 70 percent of countries failed to invest in hospitals, clinics and community health centers over the same period, while 90 countries failed to meet WHO’s contributions, according to the index.
The report found that many countries still have large health security gaps, which has made them less prepared to deal with the current Covid crisis and future health emergencies.
The report said: “The 2021 results provide a snapshot of how countries have adapted during times of crisis and how unresolved health security gaps may have hampered their responsiveness.”