Infectious disease surveillance in the Mekong region
The rapid spread of infectious diseases with pandemic potential such as Ebola and SARS has brought renewed attention to the importance of international health cooperation. As the Ebola epidemic has shown, diseases can move quickly across national borders, particularly in regional ‘hotspots’ characterized by frequent cross-border movement of people and environmental conditions that are conducive to disease transmission. In such contexts, crucial is the establishment of mechanisms that can promote collective action and coordinated response.
This research project aimed to identify and explore constraints and opportunities for strengthening international cooperation in infectious disease surveillance, with a focus on cross-border exchange of epidemiological data and information. To achieve this goal, empirical research was conducted in Southeast Asia. In the wake of health concerns such as SARS, avian influenza, and artemisinin-resistant malaria, health authorities and health professionals in the region have engaged in several initiatives to share epidemiological information and develop a more integrated approach to address transboundary health problems. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health in Cambodia and the Ministry of Science and Technology in Vietnam, key informant interviews were conducted with participants in these initiatives to better understand the complexity of institutional, organizational, technical, and cultural factors that may promote or discourage meaningful and effective collaboration. Research for this project was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council between 2014 and 2016 (grant no.ES/K009990/1).
Research findings were presented at different international venues, including the international symposium ‘Building research capacities in Cambodia’ (Phnom Penh, 16 September 2015), the international workshop ‘Infectious routes’ (University of Hong Kong, 12 May 2017), the dissemination workshop ‘Health cooperation across the borders: technical and policy challenges’ (Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 20 March 2017) and the dissemination workshop ‘Health data and information exchange across the borders: lessons from Southeast Asia’ (Halong City, Vietnam, 24 March 2017). The two final dissemination workshops in Cambodia and Vietnam involved a wide range of national and international stakeholders, including representatives from government departments and international organisations.
Dissemination workshop ‘Health cooperation across the borders: technical and policy challenges’ (Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 20 March 2017)
Dissemination workshop ‘Health data and information exchange across the borders: lessons from Southeast Asia’ (Halong City, Vietnam, 24 March 2017)
For more information on this project please contact Marco Liverani