In response to the shortfalls in the international response to the Ebola outbreak, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing a plan to boost research and transparency in the hopes of better confronting future public health crises.
Cameron, who spent the past two days with other world leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and EU at the G7 Summit in Germany, said the world must "be far better prepared with better research, more drug development and a faster and more comprehensive approach to how we fight these things when they hit."
Initially, the UK plans to invest £20 million, with additional funding coming from industry, toward treatments for diseases such as Ebola, Lassa and Marburg.
To ensure information is accessible and quickly distributed, Cameron says the UK will "require clinical trials and disease control operations to be fully transparent. From now on any UK-funded research, data or operation will be made openly available."
However, the UK does not intend to implement these measures alone, and "will look to develop an international agreement – via the G7 – that would see the publication of results from all clinical trials of vaccines for relevant diseases," Cameron said.
While many global regulators require companies to register clinical trials and publish their results in publicly accessible locations, results are usually not made available immediately. By requiring clinical trial data to be available more quickly, the UK hopes to improve disease response efforts.
Cameron says the UK is also preparing to establish a team of six to 10 experts in epidemiology and infection control to investigate breaking disease outbreaks.
These "disease detectives" will be charged with determining "what the disease is; how it is spreading; how fast it is spreading; and what response is required."
Additionally, in situations where a disease cannot be contained early on, the UK says it is organizing a much greater "reservist force," comprised of healthcare practitioners and public health experts.