Report on global infectious disease threats
Infectious diseases are among the biggest threats to health in the world. Recurrent alarms about the risk of disease spread, epidemics and pandemics make the subject highly topical and evoke anxiety in many of us. In a report published today, Uppsala Health Summit lays the basis for discussion at the summit on 10–11 October on how to manage the threats.
The report will inform the dialogue between approximately 200 international decision-makers and experts. It lays out the arguments for a One Health perspective – a viewpoint that encourages veterinarians, public health experts, doctors, biologists, ecologists and social scientists to work together to prevent, detect and respond.
Despite great advances in global health, infectious diseases pose an increasing threat. Some 75 per cent of all new diseases are zoonotic, i.e. they can be transmitted between animals and humans. The opportunities for pathogens to mutate and spread are increasing as a result of intensive meat production, climate change, population increase and international travel. Increasing antimicrobial resistance adds a serious extra dimension.
“By meeting and exchanging experiences under a One Health umbrella, we hope to find a common agenda for early detection, fast and reliable diagnostics and a financially sustainable strategy to meet the threats at an early stage,” says Marianne Elvander, professor and former state epizootiologist at the National Veterinary Institute of Sweden, and chair of Uppsala Health Summit’s programme committee for 2017.
The report gives a broad and up-to-date overview of possibilities and challenges associated with the global threats and how we can avoid life-threatening epidemics or, in the worst case, global pandemics. Some examples of the current issues described and discussed are the following:
What incentives are needed to prevent the transmission of diseases between animals and humans? What are we willing to pay for healthy animal farming and how do we minimise risk behaviour? How can the role of local communities in prevention and control activities be strengthened before a crisis hits, so as to avoid nightmare scenarios like the one that developed during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014? Whose priorities count when funding decisions are made for research on infectious disease, medicines and vaccines? How can we improve access to and applicability of diagnostics tools in places where needs are greatest and what opportunities does big data offer for more effective disease surveillance?