Health Security Considerations to Improve the Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness of Ireland’s Future Infectious Disease and Epidemic Control Efforts

Dr. Sebastian Kevany

Written for the Irish Global Health Network

Retrospect is easy, and Ireland’s successes in epidemic control should not be
understated: the shape of the country’s mortality curve without interventions
compared to what has been achieved would make for interesting viewing, were it
possible to hypothesize such a counterfactual. But there nonetheless perhaps
has to be a series of lessons learned from Ireland’s mistakes — if they could be
called that — in response to the epidemic threat. Like almost every other
initially affected country (and far less than some), Ireland was unprepared in
critical ways for onset.

Yet in future, such situations will inevitably occur under different circumstances;
the world has changed dramatically since February of this year, in an
unprecedentedly short space of time. Thus, what Ireland “should” have done
then is no longer relevant – rather, Ireland’s future health security may be
determined by the application and implementation of a separate set of
significantly more streamlined, controlled, and focused interventions that will
ensure all the hard work (on both national and individual levels) so far is not

Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is not just about stockpiling: while Ireland, as
with much of the global north, was caught out in terms of medical supply
preparedness, there is no way that this particular manifestation of an epidemic
could have been realistically predicted in the public health procurement
context. Future epidemics may also not necessarily be pulmonary or respiratory;
while stockpiling is important — face mask and ICU preparedness, as well as the
rapid conversion of other facilities to medical uses, should all be encouraged —
such strategies are not enough in themselves, nor are they necessarily the most
cost-effective options.

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