After Ebola, flu and drug resistance top pandemic threats

Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:39am EST
 
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* Disease outbreaks high on Davos agenda after Ebola

* Calls for better detective system to spot threats

* Focus on individual diseases like AIDS, TB questioned

By Ben Hirschler

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The worst-ever Ebola epidemic is waning, but after ravaging three West African nations and spreading fear from Dallas to Madrid, it has hammered home the message that the world needs a better detective system for emerging diseases.

Risks posed by pandemic threats such as deadly strains of flu and drug-resistant superbugs have shot up the agenda of global security issues at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos as politicians and scientists grapple with the lessons from an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 8,600 people.

One thing is certain: more epidemics are coming and dense urban living, coupled with modern travel, will accelerate future infectious disease outbreaks.

"Viruses do not need visas to get across borders," said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan, who admitted the international response in future needed to be much better co-ordinated.

Her own organisation has been criticised for failing to move faster to tackle Ebola and has acknowledged that it lacked the staff and tools to fight the epidemic adequately early on.   Continued...