23 August 2007 – With new diseases emerging at an unprecedented rate in an increasingly interconnected world, often with the ability to cross borders rapidly, global public health security depends on international cooperation and surveillance more than at any previous time in history, the United Nations health agency warned in its annual report today.
“Given today’s universal vulnerability to these threats, better security calls for global solidarity,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said in releasing this year’s World Health Report, entitled “A safer future: global public health security in the 21st century.”
|The report notes that since 1967, at least 39 new pathogens have been identified, including HIV, the deadly hemorrhagic Ebola and Marburg fevers.
Other centuries-old threats, such as pandemic influenza, malaria and tuberculosis, continue to pose a threat to health through a combination of mutation, rising resistance to antimicrobial medicines and weak health systems.
The report calls for Vigilance in managing the risks and consequences of the international spread of polio and the newly emerging strain of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
Its recommendations include global cooperation in surveillance and outbreak alert and response; open sharing of knowledge. It also calls for global responsibility for capacity building within the public health infrastructure of all countries.