WHO Launches Global Infectious Disease Surveillance Network

Article by Shania Kennedy: “The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN), a public health network to prevent and detect infectious disease threats before they become epidemics or pandemics.

IPSN will rely on insights generated from pathogen genomics, which helps analyze the genetic material of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing micro-organisms to determine how they spread and how infectious or deadly they may be.

Using these data, researchers can identify and track diseases to improve outbreak prevention, response, and treatments.

“The goal of this new network is ambitious, but it can also play a vital role in health security: to give every country access to pathogen genomic sequencing and analytics as part of its public health system,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, in the press release.  “As was so clearly demonstrated to us during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is stronger when it stands together to fight shared health threats.”

Genomics capacity worldwide was scaled up during the pandemic, but the press release indicates that many countries still lack effective tools and systems for public health data collection and analysis. This lack of resources and funding could slow the development of a strong global health surveillance infrastructure, which IPSN aims to help address.

The network will bring together experts in genomics and data analytics to optimize routine disease surveillance, including for COVID-19. According to the press release, pathogen genomics-based analyses of the SARS-COV-2 virus helped speed the development of effective vaccines and the identification of more transmissible virus variants…(More)”.