Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Date: 16 May, 2005
Hosted by: World Health Organization
Context: "Though health experts optimistically predicted a universal lengthening in life expectancies would flow from improvements in economies and targeted health interventions, the 1990s witnessed the opposite: life expectancy gaps between the richest and poorest nations widened dramatically following the end of the Cold War. Today the gap between the society with the greatest life expectancy (Japan) and the shortest (Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and a short list of African nations) is nearly 50 years. Though the rich are living longer, this is also due to shrinking life expectancies in the poor world, primarily due to infectious diseases. Among the factors contributing to rising infectious diseases morbidity and mortality are rapid urbanization in poor nations, globalization of human and livestock movement, abysmal urban infrastructures, declining drug efficacy owing to microbes? resistance and suboptimal treatment due to resource scarcities and social issues.
Existing institutions for addressing public health, at all tiers, lack resources sufficient to address the problems they face, and are hampered by structural impediments that have to date defied remedy through United Nations, national government, or G-8 mechanisms. The entire global surveillance team for new epidemics and manmade outbreaks at the World Health Organization ? the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network -- is five fulltime people."
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