One of the international panel of experts who worked on the new Global Health Security Index was former DA MP Wilmot James, now visiting professor in political science and paediatrics at Columbia University in New York. James is a former dean of humanities at the University of Cape Town.
The index assesses factors critical to dealing with threats, such as robust health systems, adherence to global norms, and political and security risks, including public confidence in government.
SA does well in five of six preparedness categories but is below par in an assessment of compliance with international norms. Its score is dragged down by a particularly low rating when it comes to financing.
The US and other high-income countries score well in the index but SA was among a number of middle- and low-income countries that were placed higher than some wealthy countries.
It is the best prepared African country, with the next best — Kenya — featuring 21 places lower on the index. Equatorial Guinea is in last place.
Some affluent countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, scored less than 50 out of a possible score of 100. The average score among all 195 countries was 40.2, and SA’s score was 54.8.