Australia needs to be proactive about potential disease outbreaks like Ebola and establish a national centre for disease control.
In an Editorial in the October issue of Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Allen Cheng from Monash University and Heath Kelly from the Australian National University question Australia's preparation for public health crises.
"Australia would do well to heed the lessons learned in other countries and be proactive in co-ordinating a consistent and outward looking response," the authors said.
"Australia needs a national disease control centre to perform regular risk assessments and response plans for emerging threats.
"That would include providing assistance and resources to countries that desperately need help now.
"Centres of disease control in other countries were often established only after deficiencies in response were exposed by public health crises.
"As well as centralising expertise, these centres often facilitate outbreak responses at home and abroad. Australia does not have this capacity."
The current outbreak of Ebola is the largest on record. By early September cases had been reported in multiple regions in five countries and for the first time involved large urban centres.