Efforts needed to contain diseases through prevention: Baligh

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ISLAMABAD, Mar 30 (APP): Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training, Engr Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman on Thursday said that efforts were needed to contain infectious diseases through prevention.
He was speaking at the inaugural session of international workshop on “One health Fellowship Programme” organized by Pakistan Academy of Sciences in collaboration with National Academy of Sciences (NAS) USA.
The minister while promised all out support of government of Pakistan to join hand with international partners to contain infectious diseases.
Participants included, head of organizations, researchers, policy makers beside experts from USA, UK, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and France were attended the workshop.
The experts were of the opinion that the world today was a highly interconnected place in which people, animals and vectors as well as the pathogens they carry or transmit were only an airplane flight away from any point on the globe.
In addition, the interface between humans and animals was ever increasing, whether due to crowding and commerce, or due to human colonization of previously uninhabited or sparsely populated settings.
These factors create a perfect environment for rapid spread of zoonotic diseases. Recent outbreaks of diseases of zoonotic origin, such as SARS, MERS, Foot and Mouth disease, BSE, avian influenza, BSE, and Nipah virus had caused not only major human suffering but also enormous economic cost.
As an example, SARS is estimated to have cost 30-50 billion dollars in economic loss.
The speakers stressed joint efforts to save humanity from any crises in current scenario of climate change and antibiotic resistance.
Notable speakers were Prof. Zabta Shinwari from Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Dr. Lida Anestidou from USA, Prof. David Hayman from New Zealand, and Linfa Wang from Singapore.
The scientists opined that the same interconnectedness that has made the world vulnerable to large-scale zoonotic outbreaks also presents an opportunity to function as a global public health community in building capacity to respond to zoonotic diseases of epidemic pandemic potential.
A country in which human and animal scientists, health care workers, epidemiologists and laboratorians, know how to work together in advance of a public health threat was one that will likely be resilient in the face of an actual outbreak.
A world in which scientists from different countries know each other, and have formed professional relationships and networks, was one that will know how to collaborate in a time of crisis.
Nurturing these sorts of connections among countries, and building up inter-disciplinary cadres of skilled and trained individuals at country level takes time and resources.
In this spirit, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) USA and PAS, undertook a pilot fellowship programme to build capacity of early to mid-careers scientists from Pakistan in one-health, and to foster collaboration and cooperation among countries in preparedness and response to zoonotic diseases.