This is critical to determine the current stage of pandemic, extent of spread, plan appropriate interventions, etc. Understandably, the level of situational awareness depends upon:
- The quality and nature of data available
- The frequency of data collection, processing and transmission to superiors
- The presence and design of surveillance system
- The extent of multi-sectoral cooperation and coordination
- The available resources (manpower, expertise, equipment, etc.)
- How the data is interpreted/ used, etc.
The mere presence of a robust surveillance system does not guarantee high situational awareness. Often, political leadership determines the response to a situation. No matter how good the system, a pandemic is likely to get out of control if the leadership
- ignores evidence of a pandemic;
- downplays the need to initiate appropriate interventions to contain the outbreak;
- delays critical interventions;
- denies resources required to mount an effective response;
- invests in unproven/ unscientific measures, etc.