Emergencies preparedness, response

Preparedness of countries to rapidly detect and respond to an Ebola exposure


WHO’s preparedness activities aim to ensure all countries are ready to effectively and safely detect, investigate and report potential Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases, and to mount an effective response. Given the evolving situation of EVD, there is a considerable risk that cases will appear in currently unaffected countries. With adequate preparation, introduction of the virus can be contained before a large outbreak develops.

WHO is providing that support to more than 110 countries worldwide to ensure they are ready to respond to a potential Ebola outbreak. This includes the 14 most at risk countries bordering Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. Our preparedness work in Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal enabled early detection and containment of the outbreak quickly and effectively.

Priority countries in Africa

WHO provides preparedness-strengthening teams, direct technical assistance to countries, and the provision of technical guidance and tools specifically to the 14 high-priority countries to achieve the following:

  • Provide tailored, targeted technical support to strengthen EVD capacities in human resources: operationalise plans; test and improve procedures through field exercises and drills; and support the implementation of preparedness plans with financial and logistics support.
  • Provide leadership and coordinate partners to fully support one national plan;
  • Contribute to the International Health Regulations (2005) strengthening of national core capacities and the resilience of health systems.

The initial focus of support by WHO and partners is on highest priority countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Senegal), followed by high priority countries (Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Nigeria, South Sudan, Niger and Togo).

The criteria used to prioritize countries include geographical proximity to affected countries, trade and migration patterns, and strength of health systems. Other countries of focus include Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

Preparedness-strengthening activities

Since October 2014, preparedness-strengthening teams have provided technical support in 14 countries:

  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Niger
  • Senegal, and
  • Togo.

Technical working group meetings, field visits, high-level exercises and field simulations have helped to identify key areas for improvement.

Each country has a tailored 90-day plan to strengthen operational readiness. WHO and partners are deploying staff to the 14 countries to assist with the implementation of 90-day plans.

Follow-up visits to support priority needs in EVD preparedness have implemented immediate activities in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, and Guinea Bissau immediately surrounding countries experiencing widespread and intense EVD transmission.

In addition to supporting priority areas in each of these countries, the visits were able to strengthen cross-border surveillance and the sharing of outbreak data under the framework of the International Health Regulations.

A program to roll-out longer term support is currently under development, with staff levels being increased in WHO Country Offices to coordinate preparedness activities. EVD Preparedness Officers are currently deployed to Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea Bissau. Deployments to Benin, Mauritania, Senegal, Togo are being finalized.

Links, resources on Ebola preparedness