AITHM James Cook University


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Annual Report

20 September 2017

It was great to see so many colleagues and collaborating partners join us at the 2017 Australasian Tropical Health (ATH) Conference recently in Cairns.

The ATH Conference was a great success, focusing on health security and collaborations in the Asia-Pacific Region. We started by considering both high impact low probability events like infectious diseases outbreaks and the context of ever increasing burden of chronic diseases. Alan Lopez presented the findings and historic trends of the Global Burden of Diseases Study.

There were many talks on infectious diseases in the region, including Dr Willie Pomat, Director of PNG IMR describing the history of the institute and current activities. We then turned attention to vectors and reservoirs of infectious diseases. Professor Uriel Kitron described the ever changing epidemiology of mosquito-borne viruses in Brazil, including the emergence of Zika and discovery of the associated impact on newborns of mothers infected with Zika during pregnancy.

We then moved on to methods utilised infectious diseases discovery, surveillance and response. A talk by Professor Eddie Holmes was a highlight, showing how infectious agents aren’t just a problem for humans but seem to inhabit creatures throughout the tree of life. This started a whirlwind tour of big data and genomics bioinformatics approaches to pathogen discovery and disease transmission analysis

Professor Ben Cooper demonstrated the value of disease modelling in informing public health policy, using hepatitis E data with vaccination strategy interventions as an example.

Finally we finished the meeting discussing the importance of health systems in health security and the challenges for health systems in the region.

Thanks for joining us and we look forward to welcoming you all again in 2018.

Prof Emma McBryde


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