Publication Title: 
Health Policy
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A pandemic due to a rapidly transmissible infectious agent has always been a major threat to humanity, and recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika have heightened interest in ensuring that governments are prepared to respond to this threat. Governance – the assignment of authority and the specification of procedures – is a central pillar of effective pandemic management. Without sound rules in place, ad hoc measures risk being ineffective or unjust, failing to respect human rights and worsening the impact of an outbreak. What is the status of pandemic governance in the EU, a highly developed, densely populated region with largely open borders, but a variety of languages, legal systems and socio-economic contexts?

It is currently unclear what national pandemic governance exists in Member States as it has not been mapped, i.e., identified and collated. Legal analysis and empirical evaluation of implementation and impact have therefore not been possible. The authors propose comprehensive mapping to create the necessary comparative data for legal analysis assessing national legislation’s compliance with international obligations and ethical principles. Empirical research could evaluate its effectiveness in promoting cross-border coherence and robust emergency response.

The authors, led by Elizabeth Speakman, BA MA MSc Solicitor, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and including CPHLR Director Scott Burris and Richard Coker, MBBS MSc MD FRCP FFPH, also from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, draw on the U.S. experience with policy surveillance. Until national pandemic governance is mapped and evaluated, they authors contend they cannot know if it is lawful, ethical or effective.