Below is a list of some of the disease outbreaks that have been declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by WHO.
• Mpox (monkeypox) – 2022 was declared a PHEIC.
• COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) – 2020 was declared a PHEIC.
• Zika Virus – 2016 was declared a PHEIC.
• Yellow Fever – in 2016 was declared a PHEIC.
• Ebola Virus Disease – various outbreaks of Ebola in different African countries, including the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak.
• MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) – in 2012 was declared a PHEIC.
• H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) – in 2009 was declared a PHEIC.
• H5N1 Influenza – in the mid-2000s was declared a PHEIC.
• Polio – declared a PHEIC several times over the years.
The potential for above disease outbreaks to spread globally poses a significant risk, leading to a surge in cases, severe illnesses, and even fatalities. This not only strains healthcare systems but also causes major disruptions in society and the economy. Vulnerable populations, including the elderly and children, are at a higher risk during such outbreaks, which can disrupt various aspects of daily life, such as trade, travel, and education.
To address these concerns, early detection, swift response, and international collaboration are essential for controlling and managing disease outbreaks. Public health authorities and organizations are actively engaged in these efforts to safeguard public health.
In my opinion, Drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis is a growing concern as they are challenging to treat and can spread and may potentially lead to PHEIC in the future due to below reasons.
• Drug-resistant TB strains don’t respond to standard antibiotics, necessitating the use of less effective second-line drugs with more side effects. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is even harder to treat.
• Drug-resistant TB is associated with higher death rates, especially XDR-TB.
• It can be transmitted to others, posing a public health risk if not controlled.
• Treating drug-resistant TB requires lengthy courses, up to 2 years or more, making adherence, monitoring, and resource allocation challenging.
• Treating drug-resistant TB is expensive, straining healthcare systems, particularly in low-resource settings.
• The emergence of XDR-TB, resistant to most TB drugs, is a worrying development with limited treatment options.
• Drug-resistant TB is a global problem, posing international health threats.
• TB and HIV often coexist, and drug-resistant TB is especially deadly for coinfected individuals.
• This can spread within healthcare facilities, endangering both patients and healthcare workers and stigma around TB, especially drug-resistant TB, can deter people from seeking care and contribute to its spread.
Reference is available here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/situations/