"Implications of Life Sciences R&D for Global Health Security"
by Ottorino Cosivi
Presentation in the Panel "Biosecurity Challenges in the Post 9-11 World" at American Association for the Advancement of Science, Annual Meeting, St. Louis dated 02/18/2006As is the case with every major event and scientific revolution that may affect health, it is prudent for the public health community to be aware of the implications of life science research and development (R&D) for global health security. Indeed, regardless of determining whether risk management and monitoring measures might be effective or not, poorly designed measures will have public health implications and the public health community needs to be aware of such implications in order to safeguard the public health benefits of life science R&D.
Given the complexities of such issues, raising awareness might be done by many different entities ?" WHO only represents one of them. However, WHO added value in contributing to these national and international discussions would be to emphasize the public health perspective of such issues. Whatever the measures taken, WHO's role is to safeguard the public health benefits of life science R&D and it should maintain the current policy established by its Member States, which emphasizes that strengthening public health infrastructure and research for naturally occurring diseases is one of the most effective methods for preparedness against deliberate epidemics.
The purpose of the WHO project is to raise awareness among WHO Member States about the implications life science R&D may have for global health security. This project underlines both the importance of carrying out research for improving the health of all people and being aware of the potential risks of life science R&D. Awareness will be raised from both informative and ethical perspectives, and may ultimately take the form of guidance or an evaluative framework.