Critical, but stable: Australia's capacity to respond to an infectious disease outbreak

Diseases Public health SARS (Disease) Australia
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Australia's systems for disease surveillance, detection and reporting have recently been reinvigorated, as has planning for mass casualty and outbreak preparedness. However, existing research and comments from the Australian experts in public health policy and practice interviewed by Nigel Brew and Kate Burton for this paper highlight major deficiencies in the emergency health response to infectious disease in the human population.

Although most respondents were confident that in the event of a national infectious disease emergency 'the system would work', the system is largely untested and many of Australia's hospitals appear to be underprepared. There is a general sense that the current emergency health response labours under difficulties arising from limited resources, inadequate training exercises and a lack of integration.

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