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Africa, Americas Account for Half of New Disease Reports to WHO

Half of about 5, 807 reports of new diseases received by the World Health Organisation (WHO) originated from the African Region and the Region of the Americas, the new Global Public Health Intelligence Report 2022 has revealed.

The report shows that Africa and the Americas contributed 30 percent and 24 percent of that half, with infectious diseases as the predominant cause.

However, in recent years, WHO has seen an increase in the proportion of events due to disasters in several regions.

The main cause of acute public health events globally in 2022 was infectious diseases (83 percent), while the second most common cause was disasters (7 percent).

The report is the second global report on public health intelligence activities at WHO. It covers activities undertaken between 2003 and 2022, focusing on activities in 2022.

It builds on the previous bi- and tri-regional reports by the WHO Region of the Americas, the WHO European Region, and the WHO African Region.

Michael Ryan, executive director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme said there is a growing impact of climate change, either directly through extreme weather events or indirectly as a driver of infectious disease spread.

This is despite having infectious diseases as the vast majority of health threats that WHO detects and responds.

Ryan explained that the body’s public health intelligence activities are carried out 24 hours per day, every day of the year, by dedicated teams at its headquarters and regional offices, in close collaboration with country offices, national governments, and partners.

Underscoring the importance of collaboration and engagement between WHO and States Parties under the International Health Regulations (2005), Ryan said “Collaboration is the bedrock without which detection, verification, risk assessment, and information-sharing activities cannot function optimally”.

In 2022, nearly 7000 signals were detected globally, for which 351 requests for verification were sent, under the International Health Regulations IHR (2005), as not all signals detected require requests for verification, the report states.

A response was received for the majority of requests (89 percent), with 231 (66 percent) received within 48 hours of the request being sent.

Overall, in 2022, 457 new events were recorded in the event management system, which were either verified signals or events directly reported under the IHR (2005) by a National International Health Regulations Focal Point.

Slightly over half of these events (55 percent) were initially reported by NFPs or through official national government channels, which is higher when compared to the global estimate of the previous five years.

All events recorded in EMS were risk assessed and, additionally, 65 more detailed rapid risk assessment reports were produced and disseminated in 2022. In addition, more than 200 event information site bulletins or announcements and 74 disease outbreak news reports were distributed in 2022. Moreover, WHO Regions regularly produce Region-specific risk assessments, bulletins, and situation reports.

This report highlights the importance of public health intelligence globally, According to WHO.

It emphasizes the key role of the IHR (2005) framework for engagement by WHO with States Parties for the detection, verification, risk assessment, and information sharing regarding events that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The COVID-19 pandemic and several other recent large-scale outbreaks, such as the Ebola and cholera outbreaks have underscored the vital role of public health intelligence in the global health architecture.

In a world with increasing health threats, continued support for and strengthening of public health intelligence is indispensable and key for tackling and mitigating the health emergencies of tomorrow.

Source : BusinessDay