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BACKGROUND: Suboptimal detection and response to recent outbreaks, including COVID-19 and mpox (formerly known as monkeypox), have shown that the world is insufficiently prepared for public health threats. Routine monitoring of detection and response performance of health emergency systems through timeliness metrics has been proposed to evaluate and improve outbreak preparedness and contain health threats early. We implemented 7-1-7 to measure the timeliness of detection (target of ≤7 days from emergence), notification (target of ≤1 day from detection), and completion of seven early response actions (target of ≤7 days from notification), and we identified bottlenecks to and enablers of system performance. METHODS: In this retrospective, observational study, we conducted reviews of public health events in Brazil, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, and Uganda with staff from ministries of health and national public health institutes. For selected public health events occurring from Jan 1, 2018, to Dec 31, 2022, we calculated timeliness intervals for detection, notification, and early response actions, and synthesised identified bottlenecks and enablers. We mapped bottlenecks and enablers to Joint External Evaluation (second edition) indicators. FINDINGS: Of 41 public health events assessed, 22 (54%) met a target of 7 days to detect (median 6 days [range 0-157]), 29 (71%) met a target of 1 day to notify (0 days [0-24]), and 20 (49%) met a target of 7 days to complete all early response actions (8 days [0-72]). 11 (27%) events met the complete 7-1-7 target, with variation among event types. 25 (61%) of 41 bottlenecks to and 27 (51%) of 53 enablers of detection were at the health facility level, with delays to notification (14 [44%] of 32 bottlenecks) and response (22 [39%] of 56 bottlenecks) most often at an intermediate public health (ie, municipal, district, county, state, or province) level. Rapid resource mobilisation for responses (six [9%] of 65 enablers) from the national level enabled faster responses. INTERPRETATION: The 7-1-7 target is feasible to measure and to achieve, and assessment with this framework can identify areas for performance improvement and help prioritise national planning. Increased investments must be made at the health facility and intermediate public health levels for improved systems to detect, notify, and rapidly respond to emerging public health threats. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Glob Health

Publication Date





e871 - e879


Humans, Public Health, COVID-19, Retrospective Studies, Disease Outbreaks, Ethiopia