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.
There is currently a debate about the trajectory of the new coronavirus disease, now named COVID-19. Different models are predicting different outcomes and numbers provided by Chinese authorities seem to indicate a steep increase in cases. Continue Reading
The continuous spread of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) led the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency today. WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the main reason for the declaration “is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries”. Ghebreyesus made sure to praise the measures and the ways in which Chinese authorities are controlling this outbreak. Continue Reading
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
Over the summer, I met with Prof. Dr. Manfred Wildner and his colleague, Dr. Herbert Zöllner, in Munich, Germany to learn about the structure of public health institutions and emergency preparedness in Germany.
Germany is a federal republic consisting of 16 states. Each individual state is responsible for public health, as well as other matters including policing and education. I wanted to understand how Germany, and in particular the individual states, organize themselves to prepare for public health emergencies. 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.
This is the second part of my conversation with Professor Benjamin J. Cowling about influenza pandemic prevention and preparedness. The first part was about pandemic preparedness and genomics. In this part, Prof. Cowling focuses on national and global responses.
I recently spoke with Professor Benjamin J. Cowling about influenza pandemic prevention and preparedness.
Our conversation will be posted in two parts. The first part below is about pandemic preparedness and genomics. The second part (to be posted next week) will examine national and global responses.