Promoting public health legal preparedness for emergencies: Review of current trends and their relevance in light of the Ebola crisis

Odeya Cohen*, Paula Feder-Bubis, Yaron Bar-Dayan, Bruria Adini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Public health legal preparedness (PHLP) for emergencies is a core component of the health system response. However, the implementation of health legal preparedness differs between low- and middleincome countries (LMIC) and developed countries. Objective: This paper examines recent trends regarding public health legal preparedness for emergencies and discusses its role in the recent Ebola outbreak. Design: A rigorous literature review was conducted using eight electronic databases as well as Google Scholar. The results encompassed peer-reviewed English articles, reports, theses, and position papers dating from 2011 to 2014. Earlier articles concerning regulatory actions were also examined. Results: The importance of PHLP has grown during the past decade and focuses mainly on infection-disease scenarios. Amid LMICs, it mostly refers to application of international regulations,whereas in developed states, it focuses on independent legislation and creation of conditions optimal to promoting an effective emergency management. Among developed countries, the United States' utilisation of health legal preparedness is the most advanced, including the creation of a model comprising four elements: law, competencies, information, and coordination. Only limited research has been conducted in this field to date.Nevertheless, in both developed and developing states, studies that focused on regulations and laws activated in health systems during emergencies, identified inconsistency and incoherence. The Ebola outbreak plaguing West Africa since 2014 has global implications, challenges and paralleling results, that were identified in this review. Conclusions: The review has shown the need to broaden international regulations, to deepen reciprocity between countries, and to consider LMICs health capacities, in order to strengthen the national health security. Adopting elements of the health legal preparedness model is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28871
JournalGlobal Health Action
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Ebola
  • Emergency
  • Emergency management
  • Public health legal preparedness


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