Focusing on avian influenza (AI, H5N1) and dengue fever, the team will employ a community-based ecosystem approach, which examines the interaction of both social and ecological factors that contribute to disease emergence. New diseases have been appearing and old diseases have been resurging in Southeast Asia at an alarming rate during the past few decades. These EID pose new challenges to public health that defy conventional disciplinary approaches to research and disease control. Dramatic social and environmental changes have triggered these EID including increased human population and migration, globalization and trade, agricultural intensification, loss of natural habitat, and a wide range of accompanying factors.
The institutions participating in this workshop bring together complementary expertise to address the EID problem. The East-West Center’s Lewis underscored the significance of this upcoming workshop, stating: “The means by which ecological and social factors interact to cause disease are still poorly understood. New research models are vitally needed to devise effective prevention strategies. This workshop is an important step in that direction.”
The East-West Center, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, has been working with colleagues from the region investigating land-use and land-cover change in Southeast Asia for several decades. Recognizing that these changes are linked to disease emergence, the Center has partnered with the University of Hawaii’s Asia-Pacific Institute for Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease and its Globalization Research Center in an effort to advance EID research in Asia. These partners have also been collaborating with the regional office of the International Association of Ecology and Health at Mahidol University, Thailand.
The partners in Vietnam bring additional capacity and expertise to the table. The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, which hosts the reference laboratory for disease pathogens, is the foremost institution in Vietnam working on EID. Additionally, Hanoi Agricultural University has become a leading center in agriculture and rural development with cutting-edge research in virology, molecular and microbiology, veterinary pathology, epidemiology, the development of new vaccines and bio-products, and community-based disease research and control.
The East-West Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States.