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PIA Press Release
2009/12/05

DOH media forum tackles emerging, re-emerging infectious diseases

By Neil D. Lopido

Bacolod City (December 4) -- To educate media partners on basic information on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases by generating news stories that are balanced, accurate, and help the public cope with threatening diseases in the future, the Department of Health conducted a seminar dubbed "Media in Times of Pandemics and other Infectious Diseases," held at the Palmas Del Mar Resort, Bacolod City recently.

According to Dr. Lyndon L. Suy of the Department of Health, emerging infection is a newly identified or previously unknown or drug-resistant infections whose incidence in humans has increased within the past two decades or whose incidence threatens to increase in the near future while re-emerging infection is secondary to the reappearance of a previously eliminated infection or an unexpected increase in the number of a previously known infectious disease.

These health threats include Influenza A(H1N1), Ebola Reston Virus, Dengue, Rabies, and Leptospirosis, which the Philippines experienced and provided lessons especially in dealing with the media’s need for accurate and immediate information in addressing these health threats.

Dr. Suy said that the major infectious disease problems in developed countries are related to changing life-styles; technical advances that create groups with increase susceptibility to infectious disease agents; change in the age distribution of susceptible population resulting from incomplete immunization program; and emergence of new agents of disease.

The DOH official said that the major factors contributing to emerging infections include human demographics and behavior; technology and industry; economic development and land use; international travel and commerce; microbial adaptation and change; breakdown of public health measures; and human vulnerability.

Other contributing factors, he added, are: climate and weather; changing ecosystems; poverty and social inequality; war and famine; lack of political will; and intent to harm.

Actions needed to prevent these emerging infectious diseases will include surveillance and response, applied research, infrastructure and training, and prevention and control, Suy further said.

Prevention will likewise need to enhance communication at all levels – local, regional, national, and global; increase global collaboration; share technical expertise and resources; provide training and infrastructure support globally; ensure political support; ensure judicious use of antibiotics; and vaccines for all, Suy concluded.

The seminar was participated in by DOH national officials and representatives from DOH regional offices in the Visayas including information officers together with the national and local tri-media. (PIA-8) [top]

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