By Raman Singh, President, Mundipharma
The world we live in is increasingly wary of the effects of infectious diseases. In just the past couple of years, we have witnessed outbreaks such as Ebola, and most recently the Zika virus, which have spread across countries and continents. With travel, urbanisation and the rising interconnectedness of today’s world, infectious diseases are becoming more difficult to predict and their impact increasingly disastrous.
The 2015 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was an important lesson on upholding strong basic public health measures such as infection prevention and control. In Korea, for example, the Ministry of Health and Welfare embarked on a joint mission with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to review the outbreak of MERS in the country, and implement measures to prevent further spread of the disease.
Although the outbreak has since died down, MERS remains very much a threat. To combat this, we all need to remain vigilant and take more responsibility of our own health. For their part, Governments are applying the lessons from past outbreaks and improving the resilience to infectious diseases.
However, the public, health authorities and the private sector need to work together to adopt better infection prevention and control measures.
This includes proper public hygiene practices such as hand washing, which can help limit the spread of infectious diseases. The use of effective disinfectants can provide enhanced protection against germs and viruses as well. They need to be evaluated by healthcare authorities especially during disease outbreaks.
It is also beneficial for healthcare companies to work with health authorities on joint educational initiatives. For example, Mundipharma worked with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia in a bid to tackle potential outbreaks of respiratory infections such as MERS through an integrated campaign called “Stay Healthy” to drive public awareness about protection from potential outbreaks of respiratory infections.
The private sector also has a role to play in terms of R&D. This is a big focus for us. In addition to our current work in this area, our new manufacturing and research and development facility in Singapore, which will be operational in January 2018, will seek innovative solutions to infectious diseases in the region.
The battle against infectious diseases will only get tougher as these viruses grow stronger and more lethal. There is a great deal of truth in the saying “Unity is Strength”. By each doing our part, we are capable of winning the battle against infectious diseases.