Global Health and Disease Diplomacy

In a recent paper published in Global Challenges, researchers from the Centre for Global Health Policy, University of Sussex, report a new mechanism for encouraging the international sharing of virus data that has been created in the field of influenza.

Lethal infectious diseases are a global challenge, because they potentially affect any person around the world. We only need to think of the recent Ebola or Zika virus outbreaks last year. Such experiences obviously show us that there is a need for scientists and governments to rapidly share information about the pathogens causing infectious diseases, which means that timely international sharing of virus data is critical for protecting populations.

In a recent paper published in Global Challenges, Stefan Elbe and Gemma Buckland-Merrett from the Centre for Global Health Policy, University of Sussex, Brighton (UK) report a new mechanism for encouraging the international sharing of virus data that has been created in the field of influenza. The Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) was launched in 2008, triggered by human infections with the highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1), to incentivize and promote the international sharing of virus data.

Their research shows how it is possible to overcome some of the challenges associated with the international sharing of virus data through sharing mechanisms that are sensitive to the needs of stakeholders. Stefan Elbe and Gemma Buckland-Merrett provide findings showing that this important sharing mechanism has developed a successful track-record in the field of influenza. This is encouraging and indicates that this mechanism may also serve as a useful blueprint for other diseases that depend on the international sharing of sensitive data.

On the whole, the research illustrates how pioneering solutions can be found when people inventively transfer findings from one area to another.

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