Global Alert and Response (GAR)

WHO Report on Global Surveillance of Epidemic-prone Infectious Diseases - Introduction


Global epidemic surveillance

In the modern world, with increased globalization, and rapid air travel, there is a need for international coordination and collaboration. Everyone has a stake in preventing epidemics.

WHO has the mandate to lead and coordinate global surveillance. This includes setting international epidemic surveillance standards, providing technical assistance to Member States in surveillance activities, training in field epidemiology, strengthening laboratory capacity and laboratory networks. WHO also maintains international collaborating networks like the WHO Network of Collaborating Centres for Influenza Surveillance which monitors strains of influenza, the cholera task force which coordinates preparedness and response to cholera outbreaks, and the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control.

In addition, WHO ensures international coordination of epidemic response, particularly for diseases of international public health importance or when countries lack the capacity to respond to an epidemic themselves. Responses can vary from investigating the cause of an epidemic, to verifying and disseminating information, and to providing needed equipment and laboratory supplies.

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