Canada eyes disease surveillance partnership

National 2 minutes, 32 seconds


CANADA’s Global Partnership Programme and ASEAN partners are implementing a two-year project to strengthen disease surveillance, detection and response capacities in ASEAN counties.

Two Canadian experts are here in Brunei to take part in the 10th meeting of the ASEAN Expert Group on Communicable Diseases.

The project called Mitigation of Biological Risks in ASEAN Countries is Canada’s $6.4 million investment in strengthening the region’s ability to detect, respond to and contain outbreaks of dangerous infectious disease outbreaks, whether naturally occurring or deliberately caused.

A statement from the High Commission pointed out that among the specific project activities and implementing partners is the $3.8 million to strengthen the Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network in Asia, in partnership with the World Health Organisation and the ASEAN Plus Three Partnership Laboratories network.

During the media roundtable interview at the Canada High Commission’s office yesterday, a Senior Biological and Chemical Security Programmer for the Global Partnership Programme, Trevor Smith, said part of the benefit of implementing the project is to track down “the number of people travelling around the world” so that to detect immediate response on any outbreak of dangerous disease.

Smith, who is one of the participants of the 10th meeting of the ASEAN Expert Group on Communicable Diseases, said that by detecting “where are the disease outbreaks occurred”, this will provide health officials to pin-point the risk of travel-related morbidity.

“Early detection is important just like the outbreak of SARS in Canada in 2004... A Canadian expert has established an early warning and disease surveillance system in the region called the Blue Dot (Bio Diaspore system),” he said.

Another expert, an Advisor to the Global Partnership Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Dr Robert Clarke, said the project will allow Brunei to detect the number of travelers flying into the country in “real-time information”.

“We don’t want data based which were collected three months ago. We want up-dated information,” said Clarke. Smith added that the project would allow Brunei to mitigate biological risk to travellers such as joining the global Haj pilgrimage.

“So by having this diagnostic capability, it can help the region to put in place to deal with any kind of diseases,” he said during the interview.

He lauded the Ministry of Health commitment to clinical data transparency on dangerous infections which are useful in addressing the underlying causes of disease.

The next steps in the project is to identify project focal points within each country; continue the collection of regional datasets; set up access for focal points to current application and host training event; and continue to design and integrate data into a customised application, said the statement.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Brunei Marina Laker said that the project is an example of Canada’s commitment to contributing and working closely with all ASEAN partners.

She said that the project will go far to strengthen cooperation with Brunei and countries in the region to tackle challenges like dangerous infectious disease outbreaks.

The Brunei Times