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Proposing a New Global Compact for Infectious Diseases
Date:7/8/2008

Addressing "a symmetric threat that imperils all nations"

By Harvey Rubin, M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response (ISTAR) University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

PHILADELPHIA, July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is by Harvey Rubin, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response (ISTAR) University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine:

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, recently recommended that member states develop a plan of action for enhanced and sustainable health research and development for diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries; a treaty that could save millions of lives.

This recommendation is laudable, and should be acted upon quickly, but the root problem is much greater than indicated by the WHO. The collective failure, with a few notable philanthropies aside, to respond to the crisis of communicable diseases on a global scale has implications for the economic, political and social well-being of not only the developing countries but for economically advantaged communities as well. Without question infectious diseases play a key role in the perpetuation of poverty, destroying family structures and limiting economic and educational opportunities. To be clear, infectious diseases are a symmetric threat that imperils all nations.

Medical and popular literature is replete with reports of life-threatening infections that are increasingly resistant to existing drugs. Kate Jones of the Zoological Society of London and her colleagues recently analyzed the global temporal and spatial patterns of 335 emerging infectious diseases events from 1940 to 2004. As expected, they found "hotspots" for zoonotic and vector-borne infectious diseases at lower latitudes. Significantly, they also identified hotspots for emerging infections in northeastern United States, West
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SOURCE Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response
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