Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thailand faces outbreak of at least 11 diseases

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation
Published on February 20, 2009

Citing the World Health Organisation's assessment, study leader Dr Ram Rangsin said Thailand currently faced at least 11 diseases, namely: severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS); bird flu and influenza; Japanese B encephalitis; Nipah virus; Hanta virus; West Nile virus; Meningococcal disease; handfootandmouth disease; Brucellosis; Leishmania and diarrhoea caused by E coli O157.

Ram was presenting his report at "New Infectious Emerging Disease Surveillance System" held by the National Health Foundation and National Science and Technology Development Agency.

In a bid to reduce the risk of outbreaks, Ram suggested that Thailand develop a surveillance system that allows rapid detection and monitoring of diseases in animals and humans.

"We need to strengthen and develop the capacity for the surveillance system to control outbreaks," Ram said.

He also suggested that the country's epidemiological agencies develop a reporting system, under which deadly virus strain samples are immediately sent for laboratory testing.

"Any severe illnesses and unknown deaths must be reported immediately," he advised.

The surveillance system should also have more information on factors that cause diseases, particularly those transferred from animals to humans. Building the capacity and ability of government agencies is also important in handling outbreaks.

Ram suggested that special teams be created to survey, investigate, prevent and control severe outbreaks and that government agencies find more experts to work on this issue.

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