Why does epidemic preparedness matter?

Diseases doesn’t respect borders. It takes just 36 hours for an infectious disease to spread around the world. Any country that is not prepared to find, stop and prevent disease threats cannot protect its people, its neighbors and the global community – including you, your family and your friends.

What is

This user-friendly website on epidemic preparedness was developed by Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. It is a new information source to help you determine how prepared your country is to find, stop and prevent epidemics, whether countries near you are prepared and what your leaders need to do in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in your community and others. Its main feature is the ReadyScore, which provides a measurement of each country’s level of epidemic preparedness on a scale from 0 to 100. The ReadyScore can be used as an advocacy tool to motivate countries to prioritize their health security and encourage action to reduce risks.

What is ReadyScore based on?

ReadyScore is calculated using data from the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), a rigorous, objective and internationally-accepted epidemic preparedness assessment developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners. The ReadyScore consolidates key information from the JEE about a country’s preparedness in the form of a simple and easy-to-understand number that makes it easy for countries to measure their preparedness gaps and fill them.

How is a Joint External Evaluation (JEE) conducted?

The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) is a comprehensive, standardized and transparent assessment of a country’s ability to find, stop and prevent disease threats, conducted first by a group of domestic experts and then validated by an external group of independent international experts. Like a report card, 19 areas of epidemic preparedness and response capacity are assessed and then scored. The assessment is voluntary, initiated by a country, conducted approximately every five years, and the results are published by the World Health Organization (WHO), partners and the countries themselves. The WHO also uses other processes, including mandated annual self-reporting (the results of which are also presented on this site), simulated exercises, and after-action reports to help countries assess and identify areas for improvement of preparedness.

How do you use the JEE to calculate the ReadyScore?

The 19 areas of epidemic preparedness are grouped into categories of preventing, detecting and responding to health threats. Within those areas more than 50 factors are assessed, such as whether a country has a national laboratory system to diagnose diseases, or what is the capacity of its public health workforce to find, stop and prevent epidemics. The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) rates each of the indicators on a scale of 1 – 5. One, is “no capacity” and is coded red. Two and three indicate the “need to build capacity” and are coded yellow. Four and five indicate “sustainable capacity” and are in the desired green band. The ReadyScore is the average score of the 19-areas scores, placed on a scale of 0 to 100.

Where did you get the timelines for progress?

The timelines come from the recommendations made in the report “From Panic and Neglect to Investing in Health Security” from the International Working Group on Financing Preparedness. In this report, they include the following items in their recommendations; 1) By the end of 2017, all governments should commit to a Joint External Evaluation (JEE) and by 2019 conduct a JEE; 2) Within 9 months after a JEE and Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS), governments should develop and publish a prioritized costed plan to implement the recommendations from these assessments 3) Depending on budget cycle, but ideally within 3 months of the plan, government should develop a detailed financing proposal to support implementation if the plan to improve preparedness.

How reliable are the data you use?

The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) results arise from a rigorous process that involves a comprehensive assessment by both domestic experts and internationally-recognized independent outside experts. This process is standardized across countries and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) teams that ensure coherence, objectivity and integrity. The results are not perfect, but are the best widely-agreed upon way to evaluate preparedness.

Can the results from one country be compared to another country?

The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) uses an objective scoring tool, so that scoring criteria is the same across countries. To achieve a score, countries must demonstrate that they meet all the factors attached to that score. Given that the final score is determined by host-country and external expert teams, whose composition changes, there can be some variation from country-to-country.

Why use the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) as your metric of epidemic preparedness when there are other metrics available?

The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) is the consensus tool to determine a country’s ability to find, stop and prevent epidemics. It is a component of the International Health Regulations (2005), an agreement which commits all countries to work together to report, prevent and respond to disease threats. The JEE is the most comprehensive assessment tool available now, and there is value in every country’s preparedness being assessed through the same standardized mechanism. More than 70 countries have used it to evaluate their preparedness, and more than 30 others have initiated the process. The findings are not only identifying gaps but motivating countries to fill them. Our goal at Resolve to Save Lives is to support epidemic preparedness and save lives by helping countries address epidemic preparedness gaps.

Are the International Health Regulations (IHR) binding?

Yes. The International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) are a binding agreement, signed by 196 countries, including all World Health Organization (WHO) Member States, to work together to report, prevent and respond to disease threats. The IHR require countries to report certain disease outbreaks and public health events to WHO. The IHR also provide a framework for every country to prepare for epidemics and to work with other countries and groups in the event of a public health emergency. Countries are required to report their compliance with IHR every year to WHO. We include each country’s annual IHR results in the “progress” tab on to display their general trends in epidemic preparedness.

How is this website different from others that focus on epidemic preparedness?

Resolve to Save Lives designed a new information source about epidemic preparedness for everyone, in a way that was clear and simple to understand. is a website that very simply and clearly relays and rates each country’s ability to find, stop and prevent epidemics at this time, and illuminates gaps in preparedness. If you are a concerned citizen, a civil society activist, a health professional, a journalist or a potential business investor interested in learning more about how well your country is prepared, what it could be doing better or how your neighbors are doing, this website is for you.

How can I help my country’s ReadyScore improve?

Each country page has a “Take Action” button that provides users with downloadable information about their country scores (including infographics) which can be shared on social media to start a public conversation. It also suggests simple actions users can take to help advance their country’s epidemic preparedness. For example, if your country has yet to conduct an evaluation, it includes ways to advocate for your country to plan one. If your country has done its evaluation, and it reveals gaps, there are suggestions about how to advocate for filling them. The tools on the Take Action page aim to help users start a conversation and engage decision makers on epidemic preparedness and response. Ultimately, countries need to address critical gaps identified in the Joint External Evaluations and invest in health security.

What is Resolve to Save Lives?

Resolve to Save Lives is a five-year, $225 million campaign funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates Philanthropy Partners, which is funded with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation. Our mission is to save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease and to prevent epidemics. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and housed at Vital Strategies. To find out more visit: or Twitter @ResolveTSL.

Beyond ReadyScore, how will Resolve to Save Lives help countries improve their health safety?

Our Resolve to Prevent Epidemics team works to ensure that the objective and transparent Joint External Evaluation (JEE) process will continue and that the results are shared to encourage effective action. Resolve to Prevent Epidemics also helps governments in low and middle-income countries strengthen their public health capacities and secure additional donor funding to finance emergency plans and improve capacity and preparedness. Knowing that countries can’t tackle all areas once, Resolve to Save Lives focuses on 7 key areas, emergency preparedness; emergency response operations; national laboratory systems; disease surveillance; national legislation, policy and financing; human resources and risk communications.

How often are data on updated?

Our team updates the site once a week.

Can I use data on for my own research and writing?

All information and data on the site are in the public domain and can be used, shared and analyzed publicly. We welcome learning about your research and articles.

How do I cite or credit in my publication?

Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies. (YYYY, Month Day). Retrieved from

I am interested in working with Resolve to Save Lives, how can I get in touch?

Please email:

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