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Health News Fri, 30 Mar 2007

Debate tackles need for improved international health security

Accra, March 30, GNA - Political, business and opinion leaders are gathering in Singapore on April 2 for a global debate that will focus on the urgent need to improve international health security. The high-level debate, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Singapore, will launch the World Health Day 2007 theme of international health security and send a global message to "Invest in health, build a safer future."

The debate will focus on threats to our collective health security, according to a statement issued in Accra on Friday by the UN Information Centre.

It said these included emerging and rapidly spreading diseases, environmental change, the danger of bioterrorism, sudden and intense humanitarian emergencies caused by natural disasters, chemical spills or radioactive accidents, and the impact of HIV/AIDS, a disease that is threatening the stability of communities in some of the poorest countries in the world.

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"The uncertainty and destructive potential of disease outbreaks and acute public health emergencies gives them a high public and political profile," said the WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan. B "When the world is collectively at risk, defence becomes a shared responsibility of all nations.

"WHO continues to track evolving infectious disease situations and acute health threats, sound the alarm if necessary, share expertise with local and national health officials, and mount the kind of response needed to protect people from these dangers to health." It said the wide-ranging debate would challenge panellists to confront the public health, business and diplomatic obstacles to improved cross-border cooperation, and urge them to find a way forward to more effective collaboration.

The statement said after the initial debate, the event will shift to a "town hall" format to stimulate wider discussion with an audience of more than 200 participants.

Source: GNA