Avian flu threat: New approach needed

Oct 23, 2008

As the first globally co-ordinated plan for the planet's gravest health threats is hatched by government ministers from around the world this weekend, a new report sets out a 10-point plan for this new, globalised approach to infectious diseases such as avian flu.

Ministers of health and agriculture will formulate a global plan to prepare for, and respond to, the threat of avian flu and other emerging infectious diseases at the International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt (October 24-26). The plan - called the One World, One Health initiative - aims for an unprecedented integration of animal, human and ecosystem health issues to fight the threat of the avian flu virus, H5N1.

A new report by Professor Ian Scoones and Paul Forster of the ESRC STEPS Centre at the UK's Institute of Development Studies lays out 10 key recommendations for One World, One Health, based on analysis of lessons learned from the massive $2bn international response to the avian flu over the past five years, during which time 245 people have died.

According to the report - The International Response to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza: Science, Policy and Politics - ministers need to rethink current ideas in order to achieve an effective, equitable and resilient international plan of response to emerging diseases.

The recommendations include rethinking disease surveillance, redefining health security, new responses to uncertainty and ignorance, emphasising access and equity as well as questions of organisational architecture and governance.

"The One World, One Health initiative is a radical departure from the conventional sectoral approaches to health. It is essential, but presents many challenges. We have identified 10 challenges for the way ahead, and urge ministers to rethink rather than repackage their measures. One World One Health needs to be more than 'old wine in new bottles'," said Professor Ian Scoones, IDS Fellow and co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre.

Over the last decade, the avian flu virus, H5N1, has spread across most of Asia and Europe and parts of Africa. In some countries – including Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Egypt – the disease has become endemic. Although 245 deaths have been reported since 2003 there has, as yet, been no human pandemic. But somewhere, some time, a new emerging infectious disease will have major impacts, given changing disease ecologies and patterns of urbanisation and climate change.

A major international response, backed by over $2bn of public money, has affected the livelihoods and businesses of millions. Markets have been restructured, surveillance and poultry vaccination campaigns implemented, and over two billion birds have died or been culled. Simultaneously substantial investment has been made in human and animal health systems and developing drugs and vaccines.

In many countries pandemic contingency and preparedness plans have been devised. Yet coordination at country level has been found wanting; rivalries between professions and organisations persist; and funding and capacities for an effective and equitable global responses to a pandemic remain weak.

The full report and its bite-sized companion briefing are available for download at: www.steps-centre.org/ourresear… lu.html#publications

Source: Institute of Development Studies

Explore further: Ebola scare boosts business for US company

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Of swine, birds and men -- pandemic H1N1 flu

Feb 01, 2010

Current research suggests that pandemic H1N1 influenza of swine origin has distinct means of transmission from the seasonal flu, yet does not result in the pathogenic severity of avian flu viruses. The related report by ...

Sea otters can get the flu, too

Apr 08, 2014

Northern sea otters living off the coast of Washington state were infected with the same H1N1 flu virus that caused the world-wide pandemic in 2009, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for ...

Decline of natural history troubling for science, society

Mar 27, 2014

the study of organisms, how and where they live and how they interact with their environment – appears to be in steep decline in developed countries, according to Joshua Tewksbury, a University of Washington ...

Natural history must reclaim its place

Mar 26, 2014

Support in developed countries for natural history—the study of the fundamental nature of organisms and how and where they live and interact with their environment—appears to be in steep decline. Yet natural history provides ...

Recommended for you

Ebola scare boosts business for US company

10 hours ago

The Ebola scare has subsided in the United States, at least temporarily, but an Alabama manufacturer is still trying to catch up with a glut of orders for gear to protect against the disease.

Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy (Update)

18 hours ago

Thailand's parliament has voted to ban commercial surrogacy after outrage erupted over the unregulated industry following a series scandals including the case of an Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down's ...

Doctor behind 'free radical' aging theory dies

Nov 25, 2014

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed the most widely accepted theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98.

Mexican boy who had massive tumor recovering

Nov 25, 2014

An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had pieces of a massive tumor removed and who drew international attention after U.S. officials helped him get treatment in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico is still recovering after ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.