New global diseases present challenges for science

New global diseases present challenges for science

Experts have said that the new diseases like MERS or Ebola have presented a new set of challenge for the global health science community.

It is widely believed that the global scientific community has missed several opportunities as it failed to detect and provide cures and effective treatment for new diseases in recent years. Scientists have largely struggled to control the emergence of the deadly MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, a new strain of bird flu in China and an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Scientists have not been able to detect the origin of the diseases as studies aimed at determining the routes and test experimental drugs or vaccines have not been done during the outbreaks. Experts said that the next disease could emerge and we might be completely unprepared to tackle it as there are huge gaps in our knowledge base.

Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health foundation and an expert on infectious diseases, said, "We don't now have a vaccine for SARS if it came back tomorrow; we don't know how to treat MERS; it took us six to nine months before we started clinical trials of vaccines for Ebola and in the meantime almost 12,000 people lost their lives; and during the H1N1 pandemic, the number of people randomized into clinical studies was very close to zero."

Experts said that the biggest challenges are bureaucracy, logistics and lack of forethought and steps should be taken to better equip the scientific community to address the new challenges.

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