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Bahamas among nations least prepared for pandemics

The Bahamas is considered one of the least prepared countries in the world in its ability to handle an epidemic or pandemic, ranking 142 on the Global Health Security (GHS) Index 2019.

The index ranked 195 countries.

It is a collaboration involving the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health. 

Each country’s healthcare system was ranked on: prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens; early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern; rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic; sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers; commitments to improving national capacity, financing and adherence to norms; and the overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats. 

The Bahamas was considered to be below average in six of seven categories, including its overall score.

The index ranks The Bahamas 67th in the world for its overall risk environment, 111th for its commitment to improving national capacity, 121st for rapid response, 130th for its prevention measures, 152nd for early detection, and 177th for its ability to treat the sick.

“The GHS Index is intended to be a key resource in the face of increasing risks of high-consequence and globally catastrophic biological events and in light of major gaps in international financing for preparedness,” the report notes.

“These risks are magnified by a rapidly changing and interconnected world; increasing political instability; urbanization; climate change; and rapid technology advances that make it easier, cheaper, and faster to create and engineer pathogens.”

The report found that 75 percent of countries received low scores on globally catastrophic biological risk-related indicators, noting that “the greatest vulnerability” was an oversight of dual-use research.

It also noted that biosecurity and biosafety are under-prioritized areas of health security.

“Every country also must be transparent about its capabilities to assure neighbors it can stop an outbreak from becoming an international catastrophe,” it notes.

“In turn, global leaders and international organizations bear a collective responsibility for developing and maintaining robust global capability to counter infectious disease threats.

“This capability includes ensuring that financing is available to fill gaps in epidemic and pandemic preparedness. These steps will save lives and achieve a safer and more secure world.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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