The health emergency precipitated by the Zika virus is a salutary reminder: global preparedness for emerging pathogens with endemic or pandemic potential is crucial and needs an overhaul. These crises are not rare — Lassa fever, Ebola virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome, H1N1 influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have surfaced in head-spinning succession over the past 10–15 years. Each emergence proves how woefully unprepared the global community is to deal with worldwide health emergencies that have deep societal and economic impact.