A UK team of health experts comprising clinicians, scientists and academicians will be deployed to respond to requests from countries worldwide to help control disease outbreaks within 48 hours.
Known as the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, the team will be on call to respond to urgent requests from international countries and fly in to help tackle the source of the disease outbreaks.
The Ebola crisis brought out the need for the international community to develop a system to help countries respond to and control disease outbreaks that pose a threat to public health before they become a global emergency.
The UK government has made £20m available from the development assistance budget to fund the team over five years. It will be jointly run by Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Public Health minister Nicola Blackwood said: “Ebola shook the world and brave experts from the UK led the global response in Sierra Leone.
“The ability to deploy emergency support to investigate and respond to disease outbreaks within 48 hours will save lives, prevent further outbreaks and cement the UK’s position as a leader in global health security.”
Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie said: “Speed is key in tackling infectious disease, and with this new capability we can now deploy specialists anywhere in the world within 48 hours, saving and protecting lives where an outbreak starts and helping to keep the UK safe at home.”
When the team is not responding to a disease outbreak, it will research the best options to deal with different outbreak types.
The team will also train a group of public health reservists to boost a response to any disease outbreak or health emergency.