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Communities Should Be At Center Of National, International Epidemic Preparedness, Response Plans

Devex: Opinion: Putting communities at the center of disease prevention
Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

“…All actors in global health security … need to ask themselves if they have done enough to incorporate communities, including local volunteers, into national and international epidemic preparedness and response plans. … Last week, at our global Red Cross and Red Crescent meetings in Antalya, Turkey, we began a process that we hope will lead to better recognition of, and support for, this critical community role. We adopted an ambitious resolution that, among other things, commits our global network to work with governments to intensify their efforts to build early alert and rapid response capacity in high-risk communities. Very specifically, we will advocate to governments to include our Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, in line with their auxiliary role, in national disease control, preparedness, and response frameworks. Looking internally, we will also commit to put the safety of our volunteers and staff responding to these dangerous situations at the center of our coordinated plans. Plague, Zika, Ebola: these were wake-up calls. What follows could be worse. We need to be ready — the communities that are on the frontline of these threats need us to be ready” (11/13).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.