Large-scale infectious disease emergencies have disastrous impacts on families, societies, systems, and economies. For example, the impact of the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa stretched well beyond the estimated 11,310 deaths and the 28,616 known infections. Many health workers were lost and health systems were unable to cope—severely restricting access to routine and life-saving health services. Millions of children lost months of schooling—many never returned—and thousands of children lost parents, siblings, and family members. Disruptions to markets and livelihoods also had dire consequences for the poorest communities.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing similar systemic challenges across health systems, economies, and communities, but at a global scale, and countries around the world are struggling to respond. Ebola, COVID-19, and other major outbreaks in recent years – including influenza, Zika, plague, diphtheria, and yellow fever – demonstrate that governments, donors, and aid agencies are severely challenged in their response and coordination capacity, highlighting gaps in the global humanitarian community’s ability to respond to major infectious disease outbreaks, particularly those that escalate to public health emergencies of international concern.

In 2018, the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance funded Save the Children to lead a three-year initiative to augment global capacity to respond to major disease outbreaks. Through a consortium of partners, the READY initiative supplements existing efforts to strengthen coordination between global humanitarian outbreak structures and operational organizations responding to outbreaks. Additionally, READY is building and retaining capacity among operational consortium members, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders in priority regions and countries to more quickly and effectively respond to major outbreaks with an integrated approach that addresses holistic needs of affected communities—with community engagement and communications at the center.

Consortium Partners

READY brings together the best parts of what works across the consortium’s operational, academic, clinical, and communications organizations to ensure the right people are in the right place, at the right time, with the appropriate skills, equipment, knowledge, funds, and coordinated ways of working. READY’s consortium partners are:

Save the Children 

Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health

Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs


EcoHealth Alliance

Mercy Malaysia

United States Agency for International Development Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health,
                    Save the Children, 
                    Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs,
                    UK Med,
                    EcoHealth Alliance,
                    Mercy Malaysia

This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). READY is led by Save the Children in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health, the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, UK-Med, EcoHealth Alliance, and Mercy Malaysia. Site contents are the responsibility of READY and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.