Cooperation 'Essential' To Fight Diseases That Easily Cross Borders

“[C]ooperation is essential to combat diseases that cross national borders,” Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy and a research scholar and lecturer at Princeton University, and Bryan Grenfell and Petra Klepac of Princeton University write in a SciDev.Net opinion piece. “This is not restricted to regional control — long-term, coordinated efforts that give neighboring countries an incentive to immunize or put in place other intervention measures can also lead to global elimination of a disease,” they write, discussing optimal vaccination strategies and disease control challenges.

“To effectively target diseases that extend across borders, cooperation — among countries, external funders and international organizations — is essential,” they state, adding, “In practical terms, this begins with understanding the origins of the disease and is facilitated through coordinated logistical and administrative efforts, long-term funding and targeting disease in infected populations.” Laxminarayan and colleagues conclude, “The importance of transboundary incentives suggests that malaria elimination, for instance, has as much to do with a neighboring country’s stance against malaria — and its effect on the number of incoming cases — as the endemic country’s control efforts. International programs should pay attention to these incentives and explicitly consider them in financing measures to control infectious diseases that span countries” (6/28).