Global 'public health security' needed

Aug. 23, 2007 at 7:32 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- More global cooperation is needed to identify and stop the spread of diseases to ensure public health security, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The report, "A Safer Future: Global Public Health Security in the 21st Century," said new diseases are emerging at an unprecedented rate. It said since 1967, at least 39 new pathogens have been identified, including HIV, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Marburg fever and SARS.

"Given today's universal vulnerability to these threats, better security calls for global solidarity," said Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO in Geneva. "International public health security is both a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility. The new watchwords are diplomacy, cooperation, transparency and preparedness."

One of the reasons the organization gave for the potential for rapid-spread epidemics is the increasing mobility of people. Airlines now carry more than 2 billion passengers per year, enabling people and the diseases that travel with them to pass from one country to another in a matter of hours, the report said.

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