Other Infectious Diseases
Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, measles and influenza, represent a serious risk to human health. Communicable diseases do not respect national frontiers and can spread rapidly if actions are not taken to control them. New diseases such as HIV-AIDS and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) have emerged and others are developing new dangerous characteristics such as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In addition, new scientific developments on the role of infectious agents in chronic conditions such as cancer, heart diseases or allergies are under investigation.
Europe is challenged in order to respond in the most efficient way to these threats. Close collaboration among Member States, European bodies like the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and International agencies such as the World Health Organisation is of pivotal importance to minimize the risks we are facing. Key EU objectives are to have in place appropriate and efficient surveillance systems, early warning and response mechanisms and prevention and preparedness strategies in order to be ready to respond to these threats. Detecting emerging communicable diseases and outbreaks quickly, and sharing information on their potential for international spread, is crucial for an appropriate EU response.
Since 1999 a Network on communicable disease has been in place and its main role is to monitor and identify quickly potential threats for the EU in order to put in place response mechanisms in a coordinated way. The Network is composed by the public health authorities responsible for surveillance and response in Member States. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has been operational since May 2005. This agency fosters a structured and systematic approach to the control of communicable diseases in the EU helping to reinforce synergies between existing capacities at National level.