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Addressing infectious diseases in the Pacific

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Dr Hervé Bossin (pictured) presented on the Health Think Tank findings at the PACE-NET Plus bi-regional dialogue platform in Nadi.

The Pacific-Europe Network for Science, Technology and Innovation  (PACE-Net Plus) ‘Think Tanks’ on Infectious Diseases in the Pacific presented their outcomes as  part of the PACE-Net Plus bi-regional dialogue platform in Nadi on 30 June 2016.

The bi-regional dialogue platform is hosted by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) with the theme “Moving towards a high-level policy dialogue in Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) pathways to innovation in the Pacific region.”

More than 45 public health practitioners and health scientists representing countries from the Pacific, European Union (EU) and European and International Health Organisations shared their experiences, expertise, knowledge and ideas to define how to address current and emerging infectious diseases in the Pacific.

During his presentation of the Think Tank outcomes, Dr Hervé Bossin, Senior Scientist and Medical Entomologist atInstitut Louis Malardé in Tahiti French Polynesia highlighted how Europe and the Pacific can mutually benefit from collaborative research to jointly address some of the important public health issues.

He further added some of the environmental factors that foster the spillover, spread and amplification of infectious diseases in the Pacific include tropical environments, natural disasters, poverty and poor sanitation, outbreaks in other parts of the world, regional travel and lack of workforce skills.

Dr Bossin presented three main outcomes by the Health Think Tanks.

The first outcome was identifying the main challenges faced by the Pacific in addressing infectious diseases. Some of the issues highlighted as part of the challenges comprise the need to improve disease diagnosis, public health policy, data management, expertise and knowledge and technical cooperation.

The second outcome was identifying main drivers to improve disease surveillance, management and control in the Pacific.

Dr Bossin said this was done through drivers of improvement identified through typical case studies on diseases such as zika, malaria, measles, leptospirosis and so forth.

The third and final outcome by the health think tanks was to list priority research of common Pacific and EU interest on infectious diseases.

The Pacific island context, Dr Bossin said, makes it is easier to understand the dynamics of infectious disease transmission and to implement innovative and efficient ways to prevent them. Some of the priority research areas highlighted include the need to:

  • Survey vectors and reservoirs of diseases in the Pacific;
  • Develop new diagnostic tools to improve capacity for local, on-site surveillance;
  • Build maps and models for better risk assessment and prediction;
  • Better characterise drivers to improve models and simulations; and
  • To prevent, detect and respond to diseases through evaluation of innovative approaches to control disease vectors, transition to scaleand develop tools to improve community awareness and engagement.

In conclusion, Dr Bossin highlighted the common areas of interest and collaboration between the two regions.

For Europe, Dr Bossin recommended the need to improve scientific knowledge on emerging infectious diseases, setting up and early warning systems to help prevent disease introduction into Europe and supporting innovative control strategies to prevent disease outbreaks.

He added that Pacific countries can benefit from the European scientific expertise and capacity, foster joint collaborations to tackle common public health issues and strengthen capacity through education and training.

PACE-Net Plus is a project funded by the European Commission to reinforce EU-Pacific collaboration of Science, Technology & Innovation and to promote mutually beneficial partnerships. 

The two day PACE-NET Plus bi-regional dialogue platform will end on 1 July 2016.


This news item was published on 1 Jul 2016 12:43:50 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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