Keywords: biosecurity, bioterrorism, communication, early detection, epidemiology, global health, health regulations, outbreaks, flu pandemics, pandemic influenza, reporting, smallpox, biological security, risk assessment, biological threats, public health, infectious diseases, full-scale exercises, virtual drills, training
Enhancing biosecurity through early recognition and reporting of public health risks: meeting the challenges of the revised international health regulations
The revised international health regulations recognise the importance of shortening the time from a disease outbreak to its detection and notification to the international public health community so that effective responses that enhance global biosecurity can be taken. The new international health regulations aim at requiring countries to issue alerts early enough so that responses can be initiated in a timely manner. But these regulations represent a real challenge for achieving early detection and translating notification into effective public health actions that reduce the risks of mass casualties from emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism. Coordinated early warning mechanisms to facilitate rapid recognition of a disease outbreak are needed so that an effective response within the medical and public health communities can be initiated. Effective training is essential for early recognition of rare biothreat diseases; such training needs to be realistic to achieve an effective response. Responder and system capabilities should be verified periodically through the use of full-scale exercises or virtual drills. Such training and skills are critical for achieving biosecurity.