Putrajaya, Malaysia, 13 October 2010— Governments in the Western Pacific Region today reaffirmed their commitment to health security by rallying behind the World Health Organization's call to tackle acute public health emergencies, such as dengue and food contamination.
The WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, endorsed the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (2010), or APSED (2010), which provides guidance to help governments better prepare to cope with various health-related emergencies.
The strategy, while continuing to focus on emerging diseases, widens the scope of APSED (2005), giving Member States support in strengthening their capability to detect and respond to other acute public health events.
Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said emerging diseases pose a growing threat to health security—and could have devastating social and economic impact.
"With an increasingly interconnected world, public health events are no longer naturally managed within one country," Dr Shin said. "They have the potential and ability to spread between countries, regions and across the world. Emerging disease threats and acute public health emergencies are unpredictable, posing a continual and evolving threat to the security of our Region's health."
Since July 2009, more than 200 emerging-disease outbreaks and acute public health events have been reported in the WHO Western Pacific Region, including cholera, dengue, pandemic influenza (H1N1) 2009, and hand, foot and mouth disease. In addition, a number of food safety events and natural disasters also occurred, with significant public health consequences.
APSED (2005) has served as a common framework to strengthen national and regional capacities to manage emerging diseases, improve pandemic influenza preparedness and comply with core capacity requirements of the International Health Regulations (2005).
Over the past five years, important progress has been made in strengthening the five areas of work under APSED: surveillance and response; laboratory capacity; zoonosis collaboration between animal and human health sectors; infection control; and risk communications.
APSED 2010 adds in experiences gained and lessons learnt over the past five years of APSED implementation. Those lessons in pandemic response is the need to strengthen capacity in public health emergency preparedness; regional preparedness, alert and response; and monitoring and evaluation.
At the same time, WHO said sustained, long-term preparedness for emerging diseases and other public health emergencies in the Asia Pacific Region will require a shift from a response-driven approach to preparedness-driven resource mobilization.
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