bacterial blood infectionsThe World Health Organization (WHO), the global authority formed by the United Nations in 1945, was just one of the international groups that met at a Washington conference this month for a new initiative, Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), aimed to strengthen standards in public health. A total of 26 countries were involved, although reportedly 80% of them fall below WHO’s standards, and as a result, are unprepared for the fight against the threat of infectious diseases.

Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who led the session, said: “Microbes and diseases are moving faster and farther than ever.” The major problem for the international community involves flu viruses such as the H7H9 seen in China, antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, and intentionally created or modified organisms, such as biological threats.

Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hopes that through the GHSA, we can raise standards for the prevention, detection, response and treatment, which can stop outbreaks in countries before they turn into pandemics.The new standards for public health will continue to be monitored by WHO. For more information on its work visit http://www.who.int/topics/en