Global campaign calls for collaborative epidemic prevention

Campaign calls for greater global collaboration on epidemic prevention

Wednesday November 18 2015

A new campaign is calling for worldwide collaboration to prevent epidemics, which, despite major advances in the understanding of infectious diseases, still pose a significant threat. 

Called No More Epidemics, the worldwide campaign is led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the African Field Epidemiology Network, International Medical Corps, and Save the Children. It highlights that while the past century has seen great bounds made in controlling the spread of infectious diseases, many of the most potent killers, such as HIV, flu and tuberculosis, are still present in modern society. And crucially, countries across the globe are ill-prepared to deal with new epidemics.

Infectious diseases of all kinds pose a potent risk because as soon as they start affecting human, anyone could contract them. 

This combination of high risk and inadequate preparation has galvanised No More Epidemics to take action, with the campaign particularly highlighting the need to ensure all countries meet the same high standards of preventative measures. 

It notes that poorer countries are typically falling behind wealthier nations when it comes to surveilling the progression of diseases and other preventative measures. President CEO of MSH Dr Jonathan D Quick states: "Governments, rich and poor, need to do more to ensure better disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness, and strong health systems are in place to protect the whole of humanity. The scale of the threat we face is such that we can no longer hide behind borders."

According to No More Epidemics: A Call to Action, a report published by the campaign, weaknesses within health systems and a lack of universal health coverage are core issues that must be addressed to increase global preparedness for epidemics. 

Key to this would be strengthening health systems at a country level, ensuring a good standard of care and processes that safeguard against the spread of infectious diseases within medical facilities. 

Sharps safety is among the most important areas for medical staff to be trained in when it comes to the containment of infectious diseases. This includes the risks associated with sharps use - particularly exposure to biological agents - as well as appropriate precautionary measures, and what procedures to follow in an emergency. Equally important is disposal, with the Health and Safety Executive noting that it is during disposal that many sharps injuries occur.

In addition to calling for improvements to healthcare on a country level, the Call to Action report called upon the World Health Organization to bolster its capacity for timely responses to potential public health risks, and for WHO member states to allocate a minimum of 15 per cent of their national budgets to health.