A key aspect of saving lives during a disruptive infectious disease epidemic is the effective generation and use of contextual information and knowledge that can guide adaptive planning, decision-making and intervention. This report articulates how global health funders, as well as multilateral agencies, governments, public health institutes and universities, can improve global, regional and national level epidemic preparedness and response systems through a concerted strategy of investment in social science capacity, infrastructure, tools and durable systems.
Social science capacity has made some advance from where it was just a few years ago, when efforts were more ad hoc and fragmented; however, new projects are either short-term investments with limited reach or small initial investments, and they are not sufficiently integrated with existing epidemic preparedness and response systems. These need to be urgently leveraged and expanded upon, and supported with a similar level of investment to allied disciplines such as epidemiology, disease modelling and virology. Through a broad consultation, analysis and refection process, this report analyses the contemporary knowledge, infrastructure and funding gaps that hinder the full potential of social sciences in epidemic response and presents a roadmap for addressing them.