There have been two major novel disease outbreaks of international concern in the past two decades, ‘swine flu’ or ‘Mexican flu’ in 2009–10 and SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2002–03. SARS-CoV spread to 29 countries in three Continents, whereas the ‘swine flu’ spread globally as a pandemic, affecting all countries around the World. These two outbreaks clearly demonstrated that:
- A previously unknown pathogen could emerge from an unknown source at any time and in any place and, without warning, threatening the health, wellbeing and economies of all societies;
- There is a clear need for countries to have the capability and capacity to maintain an effective alert and response system to detect and quickly react to outbreaks of international concern, and to share information about such outbreaks rapidly and transparently
- Responding to pandemic threats requires global cooperation and global participation .