Asean meeting mulls regional response to infectious diseases

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Health experts from Laos and other Asean member countries met in Vientiane last week to discuss the regional fight against emerging infectious diseases under the ECOMORE 2 project.

The ECOnomic development, ECOsystem MOdifications, and emerging infectious diseases Risk Evaluation (ECOMORE) 2 project’s goal is to understand the changes responsible for the emergence of infectious diseases, and also to measure the impact of improving surveillance systems and strengthening national and regional cooperation to address the challenges of these diseases.

According to a press release, the third steering committee meeting of ECOMORE 2, funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) to Laos, heard that the project is aiming to reinforce the capacity for diagnosis and laboratory surveillance of some infectious diseases that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Infections.

To fight dengue fever and leptospirosis  two infectious diseases whose emergence in Southeast Asia is correlated with economic development and its impacts on ecosystems (strong urbanisation, intensification of agricultural practises), the Pasteur Institute, with the support of the AFD, is implementing the ECOMORE 2 project in the five countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Five study topics were selected by national partners, about a major public health issue in each country: dengue fever in Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines; and leptospirosis in Myanmar and Vietnam.

The second phase of the project emphasises the analysis of the impact of climate change on the emergence of diseases in the study area.

The greatest risks are borne by waterborne and mosquito-borne diseases, the emergence of which depends largely on meteorology and land use.

In Laos, the general objective of the project is to develop tools for risk assessment and control of viral diseases transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes (i.e. dengue/chikungunya/zika) in urban areas.

These results are used to underpin recommendations to minimise public health impacts due to urban development and changes in lifestyle.

The Lao component of ECOMORE 2 also aims to determine the number of people with dengue in the target population, to strengthen monitoring of dengue by integrating relocation and dynamic mapping (including environmental, climatic, entomological and socioeconomic data), and to model data to result in identifying major risks and improve outbreak early warnings in the case of an epidemic.



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