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Preparing for the Next Outbreak

ByTim De Chant, Marissa MileyNOVA NextNOVA Next

The Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in 2014 and swiftly escalated into a pandemic took more than 11,000 lives and the whole of the global health community by surprise.

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While Ebola has subsided, it still lingers as a threat—and it’s not the only one. Public health officials agree that the next outbreak of infectious disease is imminent, the question is just which one. Possibilities range from the MERS coronavirus in the Middle East and avian influenza in East Asia to mounting drug resistance that could unleash waves of deadly superbugs around the globe.

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Millions gather for Kumbh Mela in India.

It’s why The GroundTruth Project and NOVA Next have embarked on an in-depth, multi-part investigation that explores just how prepared we are for a pandemic of global proportions.

In the series, the “Next Outbreak,” our journalists are reporting on-the-ground in Asia, Africa, and North America, asking how doctors, epidemiologists, and public officials responded to the last pandemic and what it will take to be prepared for future outbreaks. They’re looking for places where our response fell short, but they’re also documenting the bright spots, instances where our ability to prevent, predict, and respond to infectious diseases are gaining momentum.

The “Next Outbreak” is a multimedia collaboration of The GroundTruth Project and NOVA Next in association with WGBH Boston. The project is part of GroundTruth’s global health reporting, made in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Photo credit: Sushant Sinha/The GroundTruth Project

Funding for NOVA Next is provided by the Eleanor and Howard Morgan Family Foundation.

Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.