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Keynote Speaker At ACE Meeting Chronicles Thirteen Infectious Disease Threats Seen Under Five Presidents

The Infectious Disease Challenge Called “Perpetual”

“If history has taught us anything, it is that the new administration is likely to experience at least one infectious disease crisis of significance.” So spoke Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and keynote speaker at the recent American College of Epidemiology meeting in New Orleans.

Fauci chronicled the appearance of no less than 13 emerging infectious diseases or challenges since the Reagan administration in 1981-89 and during four subsequent Presidential administrations since his taking over the helm of the NIAID in 1984. He outlined the problems and the lessons learned during this talk at ACE. The challenges have only increased over the years.

The Problems

Ronald Reagan, 1981-89

·       HIV/AIDS

George H W Bush, 1989-93

·       HIV/AIDS

William Clinton, 1993-2001

·       HIV/AIDS

·       West Nile Virus

·       H5N1 Influenza

·       Antimicrobial resistance

George W Bush, 2001-09               

·       HIV/AIDS

·       Anthrax

·       H5N1 Influenza

·       SARS

Barack Obama, 2009-17

·       H1N1 Pandemic Influenza

·       MERS

·       Chikungunya

·       Ebola

·       Zika

·       Antimicrobial resistance

Lessons Learned

The lessons learned over these decades in fighting these newly emerging infectious disease threats, according to Fauci, are:

1. The need to have a strong global surveillance system or network

2. The importance of transparent and honest communication with the public.

3. The need for a strong public health and health care infrastructure or to have capacity building where these are deficient

4. Coordinated and collaborative basic and clinical research

5. Adaptable platform technologies for rapid development of  vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics

6. A stable and pre-established funding mechanism—a public health emergency fund not unlike the Federal Emergency Management Agency funds available in the US after disasters.

Readers interested in learning more about these disease threats can access “What Three Decades of Pandemic Threats Can Teach Us About The Future”.  ■


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