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Regional health leaders discuss strengthening health security

November 20, 2014 4:02 am

Fiji and other Pacific island countries will discuss ways to strengthen health security in the region at a meeting next week.

Preparedness to respond to the deadly Ebola virus, should the virus be imported into the Pacific region by a traveller returning for West Africa, will be a key item for discussion.

The World Health Organisations Director of Pacific Technical Support, Dr Liu Yunguo, says the risk of Ebola being imported into the Pacific is low, however possible, and as such we need to be prepared.

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Dr Liu says Ebola is obviously on all our minds now, but it is only one of a number of public health threats that will challenge the Pacific islands over the coming years.

The meeting on Implementation of the International Health Regulation (IHR) will be held in Nadi.

The IHR is a WHO-led legal framework between 196 countries.

Dr Liu says the aim of the IHR is to strengthen the fundamental ‘building blocks’ – such as surveillance systems and laboratory capacity – of public health security that are required to be able to effectively respond to any threat that arises, whether it be common, such as dengue, or unexpected, such as Ebola.

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