The Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) is an annual international conference focusing on policy-related health issues. The Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2018 is co-hosted by the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, the Thai Ministry of Public Health, Mahidol University, the World Health Organization, The World Bank, U.S Agency for International Development, Japan International Cooperation Agency, The Rockefeller Foundation, with support from other key related partners. The Conference will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 29 January – 3 February 2018. The theme for PMAC 2018 is “Making the World Safe from the Threats of Emerging Infectious Diseases”. We live in an era when the emergence of novel infectious disease agents is posing an increasing threat to global health and security. The threat from novel infectious diseases is accelerating at a pace and with an intensity unprecedented in human history, driven by increasing human populations, climate change and surging global travel. The possibility that a single lethal microbe could suddenly emerge and sweep through every household, through every community without regard to national borders or social and economic standing is a shared fear across the globe. Just the fear can cost billions, as illustrated by recent Ebola and Zika virus panics in little-affected countries. But the reality of the threat is all too clear, proven by the decades of response to the HIV-AIDS pandemic. Yet the world is not prepared to either mitigate the impact of an emergent disease threat or prevent its emergence. Zoonotic and AMR related diseases account for more than 95% of all emerging infectious diseases reported during the second half of the 20th century1 . In this century the emergence of SARS, pandemic influenza, MERS, and the spread of Ebola and Zika reflect the world’s increasing vulnerability to novel zoonotic threats. The simultaneous emergence of pathogens resistant to antibiotic therapies raises the prospect of a “post antibiotic” world. While the drivers underlying the emergence of zoonotic and antibiotic resistant diseases are complex, human behaviours and their impact on animal populations and the environment are understood to be central to the emergence of both disease threats. The role of increasing animal-human contact in the emergence of zoonotic diseases has been well documented and been increasingly the focus of One Health initiatives across the globe. The contribution made by the inappropriate use of antibiotics in animal husbandry to AMR is less well documented but in recent years has been increasingly understood to be a core driver behind the emergence and global spread of antibiotic resistant organisms, along with inappropriate “prescriber-user” practices associated with antibiotic use in clinical care. Changing environmental and climatic conditions have also been closely linked to the emergence of novel infectious diseases. That infectious disease emergence is closely associated with practices and behaviours at the animal-human-environment interface speak to the importance of an expanded multisectoral alliance across the animal, human and environmental sectors to address the threats posed by both zoonosis and AMR. The Global Health Security Agenda and related One Health movement provide important frameworks for mobilizing international action.


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