Message from the Chairs of the International Organizing Committee
2018 marks the centenary of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918/1919 – an event that resulted in an estimated 50 to 80 million deaths, more than 5% of the world’s population. Despite extraordinary advances over the past century in science, particularly in the areas of pharmaceuticals and vaccines, and unprecedented improvements in global health standards, we still live in a world where an infectious agent could emerge and spread rapidly to every community and every household with no regard to national borders or to social and economic standing. At the same time the effectiveness of many of the life-saving pharmaceuticals, such as antivirals and antibiotics, that were not available in 1918 but would represent first-line responses to a similar event today, are increasingly becoming less effective in the face of drug-resistant microbes. In addition, the increasing failure of antimicrobials to treat common pathogens is creating the prospect of a ‘post-antibiotic’ world. These trends underscore the singular importance of forging a comprehensive global vision for accelerating progress in the adoption of multi-sectoral, evidence-based approaches for addressing zoonotic diseases and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including strengthening medicines regulation and stewardship programs to ensure the quality and safety of medicines and preserve the effectiveness of existing and new therapies, and fostering research in infectious diseases and in the development of new antimicrobial agents, point of care diagnostics and new vaccines for both human and animal sectors.
The development and commercialization of antimicrobials and vaccines stand as a defining achievement of 20th century medical practice. Both antimicrobials and vaccines heralded an era of expanded life expectancy, paved the way for advanced medical and surgical treatments, improved animal health and welfare, and made possible curative therapy for and prevention of once fatal infections. Decades of superfluous and inattentive use of antimicrobials and failure to maximally use available vaccines across the human and animal health sectors, along with the threat posed by substandard and falsified medicines, now threaten these advancements.
The emergence of SARS, pandemic influenza, MERS, and the spread of Ebola and Zika reflect the world’s increasing vulnerability to novel zoonotic threats. Even in the absence of significant global mortality, epidemics and pandemics can cost tens of billions of dollars, reversing development gains and pushing communities and households into poverty.
Protecting the world from the threat of zoonotic diseases and ensuring effective stewardship of antimicrobials and vaccines in both human and animals requires a common and well-coordinated multi-sectoral effort. While there has been significant progress in building multi-sectoral One Health action against zoonotic diseases, AMR efforts remain highly siloed with an unequal focus on the respective contributions made by the inappropriate use and poor quality of antibiotics in clinical care and animal production, as well as limited opportunities for bringing human, animal and environmental health sectors together to forge a common strategy. Further, local, regional, and global human mobility driven by social and political instability can amplify the spread of communicable disease, and coupled with obstacles faced by migrants in accessing essential health services, result in emergence or reemergence of infectious disease or spread of drug resistance, and globalize public health threats. There is an urgent need to bring a comprehensive One Health risk mitigation approach that is in alignment with the International Health Regulations, to address zoonotic and AMR-related diseases.
This year’s Prince Mahidol Awards Conference will provide an important setting for fostering policy and strategic action by engaging multi-sectoral experts in zoonosis and AMR, as well as climate change and related environmental fields from across the public and private sectors, international organizations, foundations, academics and non-governmental organizations, as well as critical players in Global Health Security. PMAC 2018 will also be an opportunity to reinforce the commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including to leave no one behind, and the UN Political Declaration on AMR of 2016.
As Chairs of the International Organizing Committee, we are delighted to be able to contribute to the global discussion to address the threats posed by zoonosis and AMR and to welcome you to Bangkok, Thailand. Collectively, we have a unique opportunity to forge a bold path forward for “Making the World Safe from the Threats of Emerging Infectious Diseases”. We encourage your active participation in the plenary and parallel sessions to share your experiences, challenges and ideas. We also invite you to actively participate in an exciting range of pre-conference side meetings where many of the topics covered during the conference will be discussed in greater detail.
We would like to extend our appreciation to the many individuals and organizations that have worked to bring this conference into being. In particular, we would like thank the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation and the Royal Thai Government for their exceptional support and leadership.
Dr. Vicharn Panich Chair, Prince Mahidol Award Conference
Dr. Peter Salama Co-Chair, World Health Organization
Dr. Timothy Evans Co-Chair, The World Bank
Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán Co-Chair, United Nations Development Programme
Dr. Michel Sidibé Co-Chair, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
Ambassador William Lacy Swing Co-Chair, International Organization of Migration
Prof. Osamu Kunii Co-Chair, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Dr. Irene Koek Co-Chair, U.S. Agency for International Development
Dr. Roger Glass Co-Chair, National Institutes of Health
Dr. Takao Toda Co-Chair, Japan International Cooperation Agency
Mr. Michael Myers Co-Chair, The Rockefeller Foundation
Dr. Lincoln C. Chen Co-Chair, China Medical Board
Dr. David Heymann Co-Chair, Chatham House
Dr. Trevor Mundel Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation