Pandemic preparedness: local and global concepts and practices in tackling disease threats in Africa


  • Prof Melissa Leach

    Institute of Development Studies

  • Dr Grace Akello

  • Paul Richards

  • Dr Hayley MacGregor

    Institute of Development Studies

  • Prof Melissa Parker

    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

  • Prof Alice Desclaux

Project summary

Threats from deadly diseases that spread rapidly in our interconnected world to become pandemics are a growing concern, and international, regional and national agencies are putting in place complex strategies to prepare for and prevent future outbreaks. Yet it is uncertain who is being prepared for what in these efforts to prepare for pandemics and whether local communities in the places most vulnerable to outbreaks are being listened to. Our team’s work during the Ebola epidemic showed how community responses to disease that draw on local knowledge and social relations can complement those proposed by outside agencies. 

We want to address ‘preparedness from below’, working closely with communities in Sierra Leone and Uganda to explore how they deal with health-related threats in their everyday lives and comparing their ideas and practices with those emerging globally.

A more connected approach could help us be better prepared for future pandemics.