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As London Prepares For Summer Olympics, IRIN Examines Health Risks Of Mass Gatherings

As London prepares for more than five million visitors to attend Olympic events in the city this summer, IRIN examines how “mass gatherings — from religious pilgrimages like the annual Haj to Saudi Arabia and India’s huge Kumbh Mela, to major sporting events like the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup — present important health challenges to organizers and participants alike.” The news service writes that “a new public health specialty is developing around these major international events, allowing organizers to share their expertise, and exploit new technologies to manage risk and track disease outbreaks in real time.”

The article also highlights a special series of studies on mass gatherings and global health published in the Lancet this month. “A common thread in the Lancet papers is a stress on the need for international collaboration, and a move away from the old definition of mass gathering medicine as ‘concerned with the provision of emergency medical care at organized events with more than a thousand people in attendance,'” the news service notes (1/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.