Good preparation and planning is vital in ensuring that potential threats are identified, assessed and managed effectively. Advance preparation makes the best use of the limited time available. Public health bodies and those working in threat assessment should consider the following in advance of any threats being detected:
- Developing evidence-based protocols and guidance for responding to incidents and outbreaks of common infectious threats
- Establishing clearly defined protocols for identifying sources of key information for rapid risk assessment and assessing their usefulness. These will include key textbooks, relevant published literature, grey literature (which may involve identifying international networks and reporting systems for sharing surveillance outputs, outbreak reports, assessing other web sources, etc.), outputs of national and international public health bodies and consultation with relevant experts. Examples of appropriate sources are given in Appendix 3, and individual Member States should use this as a basis for developing country specific lists.
- Identifying relevant IHR National Focal Points (NFPs) and EWRS National Contact Points (NCPs), which are usually based in Member States MoH or public health bodies (see also 3.3, stage 2).
- Identifying and maintaining lists of named individual experts. This may include links with relevant groups or individuals and should include details of qualifications, experience in the field, publications, sources of funding, any potential conflicts of interest and contact details (see also 3.3, stage 3).
- Ensuring relevant staff members are able to undertake a rapid literature search. If necessary, organise training in effective literature searches (described in more detail in the section on literature review and sources (3.3, stage 2).