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Using critical information to strengthen pandemic preparedness: the role of national public health agencies
  1. Mishal S Khan1,2,
  2. Osman Dar3,
  3. Ngozi A Erondu1,3,
  4. Afifah Rahman-Shepherd1,
  5. Lara Hollmann1,
  6. Chikwe Ihekweazu4,
  7. Okechukwu Ukandu4,
  8. Emmanuel Agogo4,
  9. Aamer Ikram5,
  10. Tayyab Razi Rathore5,
  11. Ebere Okereke3,
  12. Neil Squires3
  1. 1Global Health Programme, Chatham House, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Public Health England, London, UK
  4. 4Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Abuja, Nigeria
  5. 5National Institute of Health, Islamabad, Pakistan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mishal S Khan; mishal.khan{at}


COVID-19 has demonstrated that most countries’ public health systems and capacities are insufficiently prepared to prevent a localised infectious disease outbreak from spreading. Strengthening national preparedness requires National Public Health Institutes (NPHIs), or their equivalent, to overcome practical challenges affecting timely access to, and use of, data that is critical to preparedness. Our situational analysis in collaboration with NPHIs in three countries—Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan—characterises these challenges. Our findings indicate that NPHIs’ role necessitates collection and analysis of data from multiple sources that do not routinely share data with public health authorities. Since initiating requests for access to new data sources can be a lengthy process, it is essential that NPHIs are routinely monitoring a broad set of priority indicators that are selected to reflect the country-specific context. NPHIs must also have the authority to be able to request rapid sharing of data from public and private sector organisations during health emergencies and to access additional human and financial resources during disease outbreaks. Finally, timely, transparent and informative communication of synthesised data from NPHIs will facilitate sustained data sharing with NPHIs from external organisations. These actions identified by our analysis will support the availability of robust information systems that allow relevant data to be collected, shared and analysed by NPHIs sufficiently rapidly to inform a timely local response to infectious disease outbreaks in the future.

  • public health
  • health policy
  • health systems
  • prevention strategies

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Twitter @DrMishalK, @lara_hollmann

  • Contributors MK, NE, OD, CI, AI, NS and EO conceptualised the study. MK, NE, AR-S, LH, EA, TRR and OU implemented the study. MK developed the first draft of the paper. All authors contributed to writing and finalising the manuscript.

  • Funding The SNAP-GHS project was funded by Public Health England.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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