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Global epidemic risk warn WHO

23rd August 2007

The World Health Organisation annual report has issued a stark warning that infectious diseases are spreading faster than ever before.

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The WHO says that increased efforts are needed to combat disease outbreaks with wider sharing of virus data and disease outbreaks by governments - particularly between rich and poor nations - to help develop vaccines and see the world avoid epidemics that may have a devastating impact on the global economy and international security.

It also warns that with more than two billion airline passengers flying each year there is a high risk of another major epidemic such as AIDS, Sars or Ebola fever.

The WHO report, A Safer Future, says that new diseases are emerging at the unprecedented rate of one per year.

Figures show that since the 1970s, 39 new diseases have developed such as bird flu, Ebola and the Marburg and Nipah viruses. In the last three decades the WHO has also identified more than 1,100 epidemics including cholera, polio and bird flu.

The document says: “It would be extremely naive and complacent to assume that there will not be another disease like AIDS, another Ebola, or another Sars, sooner or later.?

Drug resistance is also a disease control issue, particularly in the case of tuberculosis where misuse of antibiotics and poor medical treatment have been an issue.

In an introduction to the report, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan: “Given today's universal vulnerability to these threats, better security calls for global solidarity. International public health security is both a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility.?

 

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