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article imageRapid response team to tackle major disease outbreaks

By Tim Sandle     Nov 5, 2016 in Health
London - The British government has established a rapid support team, with the intention to respond to urgent requests from countries around the world to help control disease outbreaks.
The team is configured so that medics and health experts from the U.K. can be sent to an area in urgent need of medical assistance within 48 hours. The new group, the BBC reports, is to be called the “U.K. Public Health Rapid Support Team.”
Discipline represented on the team include epidemiologists (who will track disease spread); microbiologists to review the causes of the outbreak; infection prevention and control experts; social scientists; and healthcare sciences. The team will therefore be made up of clinicians, scientists and academics. Academic support comes from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, together with the University of Oxford and King’s College London. The scheme will be administered through Public Health England, an arm’s length government body.
The reason for establishing the team has come out of the review of the Ebola epidemic, which affected many parts of West Africa. In the wake of this pathogenic crisis many countries, together with the World health Organization, were criticized for not responding fast enough to the viral outbreak.
The new team has been established with the backing of central government, to the tune of £20 million ($30 million), although this will funded over a five year period.
Commenting on the plans, the Public Health Minister Nicola Blackwood told Public Health England’s health portal: “The ability to deploy emergency support to investigate and respond to disease outbreaks within 48 hours will save lives, prevent further outbreaks and cement the U.K.’s position as a leader in global health security.”
She also stated: “Disease outbreaks can spread rapidly, including across borders. We know halting diseases at source is the most effective way to protect people in the U.K.”
When not tackling diseases on the ground, the team will carry out research into major pathogens and disease response. The group will also train what are called “public health reservists.” This is to ensure a scalable response to any disease outbreak or health emergency in the U.K.
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