This week has proven to be a tumultuous week in which the steady rise of coronavirus cases in the US has led to more aggressive measures for outbreak control. The National Guard has been called to a neighboring town to contain the outbreak. On a personal note, my school district has closed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. I originally created this blog as a way to spread awareness of the importance of public health preparedness, as it was an undervalued topic. However, times have changed and public health and emergency management are at the forefront of news and public policy today as a result of COVID-19.
An important issue in the public health area today is dual use research and technology, a topic that often remains unspoken about and unknown to the public. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “dual use research of concern (DURC) is life sciences research that is intended for benefit, but which might easily be misapplied to do harm”. Continue Reading
As with many other countries around the world, biodefense and public health planning, surveillance, and response are the responsibilities of numerous intertwined agencies within a country that all have different assignments and responsibilities, yet have to work together to successfully protect a nation from harm.
Last summer, I interviewed a Norwegian public health expert who chose to remain anonymous. She shared with me valuable information regarding the Norwegian Government’s approach to public health. As the Norwegian health system is universal and available to everyone, I was interested to find out how they organize pandemic preparedness and the agencies involved. Continue Reading
All around the world, the structure and security measures for biodefense preparedness vary. Countries have very distinct strategies based on their location, size, and type of government. I was particularly interested in Singapore, a very small country of only 5.8 million residents and 278 square miles, because of its reputation for efficiency and high standards. Therefore, I asked the Singaporean Government if they could share information on their approach to protecting their country from biological threats. Continue Reading
The World Health Organization has recently declared the nearly year-long Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a Public-Health Emergency of International Concern. The declaration was made after recent developments in the outbreak made it one of international concern. Continue Reading
Last summer, I met with Dr. Tomoya Saito in Tokyo to learn about outbreak and bioterror preparedness in Japan.
Our conversation will be posted in two parts. Part I (below) is about the role that different Japanese institutions play to prevent and respond to biological threats. In Part II (to be posted soon) we will discuss how dual-use technologies change the risk of biothreats.
Dr. Saito is Chief Senior Researcher at the Department of Health Crisis Management of the National Institute of Public Health of Japan (NIPH). His current area of research is biosecurity, public health emergency preparedness and response, and simulation epidemiology. He is based in Saitama, Japan.
Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Containing and Preventing Biological Threats, by Jeffrey R. Ryan, is a very comprehensive and multi-faceted book. This was one of the first books that I read when I began learning about global public health and it gave me a great introduction into the sometimes complicated field of bioterrorism.
I recently spoke with Dr. Suneil Malik about genomics and outbreak preparedness.
Dr. Malik is a Manager and Team Leader for Toxicology at Health Canada, a government agency directed by the Canadian Minister of Health. He is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
On the preparedness front in the United States, the new National Biodefense Strategy was released on September 19, 2018. The new strategy establishes clear and thoughtful goals that will become a vital part of “managing the risk of biological incidents… in today’s interconnected world” 1. Continue Reading