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In International journal of disaster risk reduction : IJDRR

Today's health emergencies are increasingly complex due to factors such as globalization, urbanization and increased connectivity where people, goods and potential vectors of disease are constantly on the move. These factors amplify the threats to our health from infectious hazards, natural disasters, armed conflicts and other emergencies wherever they may occur. The current CoVID-19 pandemic has provided a clear demonstration of the fact that our ability to detect and predict the initial emergence of a novel human pathogen (for example, the spill-over of a virus from its animal reservoir to a human host), and our capacity to forecast the spread and transmission the pathogen in human society remains limited. Improving ways in which we prepare will enable a more rapid and effective response and enable proactive preparations (including exercising) to respond to any novel emerging infectious disease outbreaks. This study aims to explore the current state of pandemic preparedness exercising and provides an assessment of a number of case study exercises for health hazards against the key components of the WHO's Exercises for Pandemic Prepared Plans (EPPP) framework in order to gauge their usefulness in preparation for pandemics. The paper also examines past crises involving large-scale epidemics and pandemics and whether simulations took place to test health security capacities either in advance of the crisis based on risk assessments, strategy and plans or after the crisis in order to be better prepared should a similar scenario arise in the future. Exercises for animal and human diseases have been included to provide a "one health" perspective [1,2]. This article then goes on to examine approaches to simulation exercises relevant to prepare for health crisis involving a novel emergent pathogen like CoVID-19. This article demonstrates that while simulations are useful as part of a preparedness strategy, the key is to ensure that lessons from these simulations are learned and the associated changes made as soon as possible following any simulation in order to ensure that simulations are effective in bringing about changes in practice that will improve pandemic preparedness. Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies could also be applied in preparing communities for outbreak detection, surveillance and containment, and be a useful tool for providing immersive environments for simulation exercises for pandemic preparedness and associated interventions which may be particularly useful at the strategic level. This article contributes to the limited literature in pandemic preparedness simulation exercising to deal with novel health crises, like CoVID-19. The analysis has also identified potential areas for further research or work on pandemic preparedness exercising.

Reddin Karen, Bang Henry, Miles Lee

2021-Apr-05

Emergency Exercise, Epidemic, Lessons learnt, Pandemic, Simulation