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Countries must work together to tackle disease security threat

International travel, drug resistance, and under-resourced health systems have boosted the threats posed by infectious diseases

OnMedica Staff

Thursday, 23 August 2007

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for concerted global cooperation to tackle the growing threat to international security posed by infectious disease.

In a report on public health published today, it says that the ease of international travel, coupled with drug resistance and under-resourced health systems have facilitated the emergence of new diseases and maintained the dominance of old foes, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and flu.

Since 1967, 39 new pathogens have been identified, including HIV, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Ebola virus, and billions of people on the move every year, as a result of displacement and migration, has eased transmission within a matter of hours, it says.

The report urges all 197 member states to roll out fully the International Health Regulations, which were revised in 2005 on the basis that no country can fully protect its citizens against disease in isolation or through border controls.

Other recommendations include:

  • global cooperation on surveillance and alerts and responses to disease outbreaks
  • open sharing of technologies, including viruses and other laboratory samples
  • global responsibility for training staff and funding public health systems around the world
  • better communication within different government departments
  • more funding for surveillance, reporting systems, prevention, and response strategies.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, writes in the report's introduction: "Given today's universal vulnerability to these threats, better security calls for global solidarity.

"International public health security is both a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility. As the determinants and consequences of health emergencies have become broader, so has the range of players with a stake in the security agenda.

"The new watchwords are diplomacy, cooperation, transparency, and preparedness," she declared.

World health report: A safer future: global public health in the 21st Century can be accessed at: www.who.int

 

 

 

 

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