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Pandemics and epidemics: Past, present and future

Author:

Jennifer Perera

University of Colombo, LK
About Jennifer
Emeritus Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine
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Abstract

There have been many significant disease outbreaks and pandemics recorded in history. With rapidly changing ecology, urbanization, climate change, increased travel and outdated public health systems, epidemics and pandemics will become more frequent, more complex and harder to prevent and contain. Many features of a pandemic, including the geographic extension, novelty, severity, minimal population immunity and infectiousness determines the outcome. The pandemic related crises have been associated with enormous negative impacts on health, economy, society and security of national and global communities. They have led to significant political and social disruption. Research indicate that disadvantaged nations and certain groups of people or societies are affected most during pandemics. The great majority of the more recent epidemics and pandemics were zoonotic and some related to wildlife. Being better prepared for pandemics could mitigate its impact on the world as a whole. The preparedness plans should include comprehensive surveillance systems on wildlife to identify the carriage of high-risk pathogens, people who have contact with wild life to identify early spillover events and market biosecurity regarding the wildlife trade. Use of advances in computer science, artificial intelligence and data science need to be actively integrated when planning epidemic responses. The use of ‘One Health’ approach will enable earlier response. Pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccines and antiviral agents are less likely to be available in developing countries. Furthermore, the public health and clinical infrastructure of developing countries are often inadequate to deal with a widespread health crisis which will in turn inevitably affect the global health. Thus, an integrated global effort is required to prevent future epidemics and pandemics.
How to Cite: Perera, J., 2020. Pandemics and epidemics: Past, present and future. Ceylon Journal of Medical Science, 57(1), pp.5–13. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cjms.v57i1.5017
Published on 28 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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