WHO launches network to detect infectious disease threat. The International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN) was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a platform to connect countries and improve the collection and analysis of pathogen samples. The network’s main objective is to swiftly identify and track infectious disease threats, ensuring the sharing of information and prompt action to prevent pandemics like Covid-19.
Pathogen genomics will be a key tool used by the network to analyze the genetic code of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms. This analysis will provide insights into these pathogens’ infectiousness, lethality, and transmission patterns.
The data collected through IPSN will contribute to a broader disease surveillance system that aims to identify and track diseases, contain outbreaks, and develop treatments and vaccines.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the network’s ambitious goals, emphasizing the importance of global collaboration in addressing health threats. The IPSN will have a secretariat within the WHO’s Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence and will bring together experts from various sectors, including government, academia, and the private sector.
The IPSN is one of several initiatives launched since the Covid-19 pandemic to enhance global pandemic preparedness and response. Pathogen genomics played a critical role in the Covid-19 response, enabling the rapid development of effective vaccines and the identification of new variants. The WHO emphasized the central role of genomics in epidemic and pandemic preparedness and its importance in surveillance efforts for a wide range of diseases.
While some countries have scaled up their genomics capacity in response to the pandemic, many still lack effective sample collection and analysis systems. The IPSN aims to address these challenges by providing countries with access to pathogen genomic sequencing and analytics as part of their public health systems.
The announcement of IPSN comes ahead of the WHO’s annual meeting of member states, reinforcing the organization’s commitment to strengthening global health security and collaboration in preventing and responding to future pandemics.
The International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN) offers several benefits in enhancing global health security and pandemic preparedness:
- Swift Identification of Infectious Disease Threats: The IPSN aims to quickly identify and track infectious disease threats. Connecting countries and regions facilitates the efficient sharing of information and enables timely action to prevent the emergence of pandemics like Covid-19.
- Improved Systems for Sample Collection and Analysis: The network focuses on improving systems for collecting and analyzing pathogen samples. This advancement enhances the accuracy and speed of diagnostics, allowing for early detection and response to disease outbreaks.
- Utilization of Pathogen Genomics: The IPSN relies on pathogen genomics to analyze the genetic code of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms. This approach provides valuable insights into the infectiousness, severity, and transmission patterns of pathogens, aiding in effective response strategies.
- Enhanced Disease Surveillance: The data gathered through IPSN contributes to a broader disease surveillance system. By integrating pathogen genomic information, this system improves the identification and tracking of diseases, facilitating early containment of outbreaks and the development of treatments and vaccines.
- Global Collaboration and Expertise: The IPSN brings together experts on genomics and data analytics from various sectors, including governments, academia, and the private sector. This collaborative approach fosters knowledge sharing, promotes innovative solutions, and optimizes routine disease surveillance efforts.
- Strengthened Health Security: The IPSN’s ambitious goals contribute to strengthening global health security. By facilitating the early detection and response to disease threats, it helps prevent and mitigate the impact of epidemics and pandemics, safeguarding public health on a global scale.
The IPSN’s establishment within the WHO’s Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence further reinforces its significance and commitment to addressing future health challenges effectively. By leveraging pathogen genomics and promoting international cooperation, the IPSN plays a vital role in improving pandemic preparedness, response, and overall global health outcomes.