University of Pennsylvania Researcher Urges Colleagues to Endorse Global Compact to Combat Deadly Infections

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Media Contact:Greg Lester | | 215-573-6604October 13, 2006

PHILADELPHIA - Combating the international threat of deadly infectious disease requires a bold and decisive plan, according to Harvey Rubin, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response.

At the annual meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America, held today in Toronto, Rubin outlined a multi-faceted plan to approach global infection control in a white paper entitled "The New Arms Race:  Making the Case for an International Treaty in the War Against Infectious Diseases."

"To create a healthier, safer world we must meld the best of science and technology with practical social and political realities," Rubin said.  "To be successful, this will involve optimizing the tradeoffs between international security, disease control and the open dissemination of knowledge."

In his presentation, Rubin urged infectious disease experts to establish an unprecedented multi-national approach to combat a wide range of existing and emerging deadly infections.  The approach would not only tackle existing infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, which kill millions each year, but also track the emergence of new diseases or newly engineered biological agents.

The proposal calls for the creation of an international compact among nations.  The foundation of the compact is a four-part framework calling for:

_ The establishment, maintenance and monitoring of international standards for surveillance and reporting of infectious diseases using advanced information technology to ensure timeliness, interoperability and security.

_ The establishment, maintenance and monitoring of international standards for best laboratory practices.

_ The expansion of the capabilities for the production of vaccines and therapeutics expressly for emerging and reemerging infections

_ The establishment, maintenance and monitoring of a network of international research centers for microbial threats.