Ex­perts col­lab­o­rate on in­fec­tious dis­eases

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The Pa­cific-Europe Net­work for Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion (PACE-Net Plus) ‘Think Tanks’ on In­fec­tious Dis­eases in the Pa­cific pre­sented their out­comes as part of the PACE-Net Plus bi-re­gional di­a­logue plat­form in Nadi on June 30.

The bi-re­gional di­a­logue plat­form was hosted by The Uni­ver­sity of the South Pa­cific’s (USP) Fac­ulty of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and En­vi­ron­ment (FSTE) with the theme “Mov­ing to­wards a high-level pol­icy di­a­logue in Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion (ST&I) path­ways to in­no­va­tion in the Pa­cific re­gion.”

More than 45 pub­lic health prac­ti­tion­ers and health sci­en­tists rep­re­sent­ing coun­tries from the Pa­cific, Euro­pean Union (EU) and Euro­pean and In­ter­na­tional Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion shared their ex­pe­ri­ences, ex­per­tise, knowl­edge and ideas to de­fine how to ad­dress cur­rent and emerg­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases in the Pa­cific. Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion of the Think Tank out­comes, Dr Hervé Bossin, Se­nior Sci­en­tist and Med­i­cal En­to­mol­o­gist at In­sti­tut Louis Malardé in Tahiti French Poly­ne­sia high­lighted how Europe and the Pa­cific can mu­tu­ally ben­e­fit from col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search to jointly ad­dress some of the im­por­tant pub­lic health is­sues. He said some of the en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that fos­ter the spillover, spread and am­pli­fi­ca­tion of in­fec­tious dis­eases in the Pa­cific in­clude trop­i­cal en­vi­ron­ments, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, poverty and poor san­i­ta­tion, out­breaks in other parts of the world, re­gional travel and lack of work­force skills. Dr Bossin pre­sented three main out­comes by the Health Think Tanks. The first out­come was iden­ti­fy­ing the main chal­lenges faced by the Pa­cific in ad­dress­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases. Some of the is­sues high­lighted as part of the chal­lenges com­prise the need to im­prove dis­ease di­ag­no­sis, pub­lic health pol­icy, data man­age­ment, ex­per­tise and knowl­edge and tech­ni­cal co-op­er­a­tion. The se­cond out­come was iden­ti­fy­ing main driv­ers to im­prove dis­ease surveil­lance, man­age­ment and con­trol in the Pa­cific. Dr Bossin said this was done through driv­ers of im­prove­ment iden­ti­fied through typ­i­cal case stud­ies on dis­eases such as zika, malaria, measles, lep­tospiro­sis and so forth. The third and fi­nal out­come by the health think tanks was to list pri­or­ity re­search of com­mon Pa­cific and EU in­ter­est on in­fec­tious dis­eases.

The Pa­cific is­land con­text, Dr Bossin said, makes it is eas­ier to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics of in­fec­tious dis­ease trans­mis­sion and to im­ple­ment in­no­va­tive and ef­fi­cient ways to pre­vent them.

In con­clu­sion, Dr Bossin high­lighted the com­mon ar­eas of in­ter­est and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the two re­gions. For Europe, Dr Bossin rec­om­mended the need to im­prove sci­en­tific knowl­edge on emerg­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases, set­ting up and early warn­ing sys­tems to help pre­vent dis­ease in­tro­duc­tion into Europe and sup­port­ing in­no­va­tive con­trol strate­gies to pre­vent dis­ease out­breaks. He said that Pa­cific coun­tries could ben­e­fit from the Euro­pean sci­en­tific ex­per­tise and ca­pac­ity, fos­ter joint col­lab­o­ra­tions to tackle com­mon pub­lic health is­sues and strengthen ca­pac­ity through ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing. PACE-Net Plus is a project funded by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to re­in­force EU-Pa­cific col­lab­o­ra­tion of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion and to pro­mote mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ships. The two day PACE-NET Plus bire­gional di­a­logue plat­form ended last Fri­day.

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