Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Long-term public health support needed to tackle infectious disease outbreaks

Science Daily: Outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as swine flu (H1N1) threaten global health and should be considered by funding agencies and humanitarian organizations as development issues rather than emergency situations, requiring long-term support and investment, according to US experts writing in this week's PLOS Medicine.

The authors from several US institutions, led by Tiffany Bogich from Princeton University, reached these conclusions by reviewing nearly 400 serious international public health events. They found that the disruption to, or lack of, public health infrastructure was the major driving factor of infectious disease outbreaks, contributing 40% overall. In contrast, other main driving factors, such as climate and weather and war and famine had a much lesser role, each contributing less that 10% to infectious disease outbreaks.

Based on these findings, the authors argue that there is a mismatch between the drivers of infectious disease outbreaks and current trends in public health spending as shown by the current donor trend of favoring disease-specific global health programs. The authors argue that this mismatch may be at the cost of strengthening public health infrastructure and development in the long term.

They argue: "Stronger public health infrastructure, for example, expanded surveillance, better diagnostic capacity, and rapid reporting and control, in developing countries will likely help prevent localized outbreaks of newly emerged pathogens becoming pandemic."...

This transmission electron micrograph (TEM), taken at a magnification of 108,000x, revealed the ultrastructural details of two avian influenza A (H5N1) virions, a type of bird flu virus, which is a subtype of avian influenza A. At this magnification, one may note the stippled appearance of the roughened surface of the proteinaceous coat encasing each virion. Photo Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith/ Jackie Katz

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