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Responding to emerging infectious diseases

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Responding to emerging infectious diseases will provide an update on this rapidly changing field from some of the world’s foremost experts working in this area. The presenters include leading researchers and public health practitioners from the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, notably Professor David Heymann from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, editor of the widely used handbook, Control of Communicable Diseases Manual.

The disease-scape of infections is constantly changing as pathogens evolve to take advantage of new ecological niches created by human activities. Obvious examples are the global spread of Zika virus, Ebola in West Africa, and the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific continue to have unacceptably high rates of several important IDs. These problem diseases include those strongly linked to poverty, notably respiratory infections, rheumatic fever and skin infections. There are also important diseases linked to zoonotic reservoirs and food processing, notably campylobacteriosis and leptospirosis. Agricultural practices also effect the development and spread of drug resistant organisms.

At the same time, we have new frameworks and tools for investigating, preventing, and controlling emerging infectious diseases. Global approaches include the International Health Regulations, Global Health Security Agenda and One Health. New tools are provided by advances in surveillance systems, epidemiological methods, molecular biology, and vaccination technology.

Topics covered  

1. Emerging infectious diseases and their causes

  • Global emerging ID threats
  • Emerging ID threats in NZ
  • Emerging ID threats in Australia and the Pacific
  • Emerging pandemic respiratory infections
  • Emerging vector borne and zoonotic diseases
  • Increasing antimicrobial resistance
  • Impact of climate change as a driver
  • Impact of inequalities as a driver

2. Preventing and responding to these emerging ID threats

  • International best-practice for responding to emerging IDs (presented by Prof David Heymann)
  • Frameworks for preventing and responding to emerging IDs including the International Health Regulations (IHR), Global health security agenda, One Health
  • Prioritising threats
  • Improving pandemic planning
  • Improving our surveillance infrastructure
  • Advances in laboratory methods including molecular biology
  • Developing our workforce
  • Approaches to improve antimicrobial stewardship
  • Increasing capacity in low and middle income countries

3. Future directions for NZ, Australia, and the Pacific Region to improve prevention & control of emerging IDs

  • Views of key decision-makers from NZ, Australia and the Pacific
  • Views of regional organisations (WHO)
  • Role of clinicians and health services
  • Role of the media in responses to emerging IDs

Style of course

This course will be taught as a symposium with contributions from multiple speakers. There will be numerous opportunities to discuss and comment on the topics being presented as well as a social event at the end of the day.

Who should attend?  

  • Staff of public health services involved in ID prevention and control, including medical offices of health, health protection officers and public health nurses
  • Immunisation coordinators and practitioners
  • Hospital infection control staff
  • Staff of Government agencies with responsibilities for prevention and control of IDs
  • Infectious disease physicians, clinical microbiologists and laboratory scientists
  • Infection control staff
  • Paediatricians and paediatric nurses whose work includes a large ID component
  • Environmental health officers and those involved in food safety
  • Veterinarians and researchers interested in zoonotic diseases and One Health
  • All of those interested in infectious diseases.

By the end of this course participants should have the knowledge/skills to:

  • Better understand the emerging infectious disease threats and drivers affecting NZ and our wider region
  • Contribute more effectively to evidence-based prevention and control of IDs
  • Take a multidisciplinary, multi-agency, integrated approach to the management of emerging IDs

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
9am Emerging infectious diseases at the global, regional and local level David Heymann, Martyn Kirk, Tim Blackmore, Sala Saketa, Michael Baker
10:30am Morning tea
11am Specific hazards and drivers of infectious disease emergence Raina MacIntyre, Nigel French, Archie Clements, Debbie Williamson, Simon Hales, Michael Baker, Nick Wilson
12:30pm Lunch break
1:30pm Preventing and responding to emerging IDs: Experience and science David Heymann, Nicholas Jones, Ryan McLane, Raina MacIntryre, Nick Wilson, Ayesha Verrall, John Potter
3pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Preventing and responding to emerging IDs: Role of key institutions Mark Jacobs, Virginia Hope, Michelle Balm, Peter Griffin, Michael Baker
5pm Finish
5.15pm Public lecture: Towards a world free from the threat of emerging infectious diseases David Heymann
6.15pm Refreshments

Teaching staff  

David Heymann is currently Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; head of the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House, London; and chairman of Public Health England, UK. Previously he was the World Health Organization's assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, and representative of the director-general for polio eradication. Prof. Heymann has taken a leading role in responses to major global infectious disease outbreaks, including the first recognised Ebola outbreak in 1976 and the SARS epidemic in 2003. He is also well known as the editor of the 18th through 20th editions of the essential handbook, Control of Communicable Diseases Manual.

Michael Baker is a public health physician and Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago Wellington. Michael has a long-term interest in infectious disease prevention, control, surveillance, and research. He has a particular research focus on emerging IDs, rheumatic fever, the effects of household crowding, and approaches to improving disease surveillance such as the International Health Regulations (IHR). He is director of the Health Environment and Infection Research Unit (HEIRU) at the University of Otago, co-director of He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme and a chief investigator at the Australian NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response (ISER).

Raina Macintyre is Head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. She is Director of the Australian NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response (ISER). She is a graduate of the Australian Field Epidemiology Training program (the MAE at ANU), and has extensive experience in field epidemiology. She is a research leader in infectious disease epidemiology with a Masters and PhD in this field. She co-founded the ARM network for Australian outbreak response, which has deployed members to many international outbreaks. Her research includes emerging infections, personal protective equipment, vaccinology and biosecurity.

Archie Clements is Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Director of the Research School of Population Health (RSPH) at the Australian National University, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and head of the Global Health Group at ANU RSPH. His research, and that of the Global Health Group, focus on improving the efficiency/effectiveness of public health interventions for a range of infectious diseases including parasitic diseases; mosquito-borne diseases; and emerging healthcare-acquired infections.

Martyn Kirk is an Associate Professor and Head of the Master of Philosophy Applied Epidemiology (MAE) program — the Australian Field Epidemiology Training Program — at the Australian National University. He is a field epidemiologist with extensive experience investigating the epidemiology of food- and waterborne diseases. During the last twenty five years, Prof Kirk has worked at State, National and international levels at the intersection between applied research and government policy.

Debbie Williamson is clinical microbiologist, Deputy Director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit at the Public Health Laboratory at The University of Melbourne and Co-Head of Public Health at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. She also holds a Senior Lecturer position in Microbiology at the University of Otago, Wellington and was previously a Clinical Microbiologist at ESR. Debbie has a long standing research interests in the development and control of antimicrobial resistance, and staphylococcal and other bacterial infections.

Mark Jacobs (via video link) is the Director of Communicable Diseases at World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office. Previously he was the Director of Public Health at the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Manager of the Public Health Programme at the Pacific Community SPC. He has a strong interest in Pacific health and considerable expertise in coordinating health services. He holds an MBChB and MPH from the University of Sydney.

Salanieta Saketa is a public health physician with over 20 years’ experience in the Fiji public health system both at operational and strategic level. She graduated with an MBBS from the Fiji School of Medicine in 1988 and holds a Master’s in Public Health from the Braun School of Public Health, Hebrew University, Israel and an MBA from the University of the South Pacific (USP). She joined the Pacific Community (SPC) in 2015 as a Senior Epidemiologist with the Research, Evidence and Information Programme in the Public Health Division of SPC focused on communicable disease surveillance and response. Her regional technical experiences include evaluations of surveillance and health information systems and enhanced surveillance during mass gatherings. She is a past member of the Coordinating Body of the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN), Pacific Health Research Council and past chairperson of the Pacific Human Resource for Health Alliance.

Nigel French is the Establishment Director of the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre, Director of the Infectious Disease Research Centre, and Executive Director of the Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health laboratory in the Hopkirk Research Institute. He was recently elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Nigel is also an Associate member of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Studies. He is Visiting Professor at the Universities of Liverpool and Surrey, UK, an Honorary Professor at the University of Otago, a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Public Health and a Fellow of Food Standards Australia New Zealand. He was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship in 1999 and a Personal Chair in Veterinary Epidemiology, University of Liverpool, in 2002.

Virginia Hope NZMN is Medical Director of the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR). She is a Public Health Medicine Specialist and Medical Administrator with 30 years' experience in various aspects of public health. ESR is funded by the Ministry of Health to provide microbiological reference laboratory testing, infectious disease surveillance and outbreak investigation coordination for the health sector. Virginia's research interests have included the aetiology and epidemiology of communicable diseases, environmental health, occupational health, the links between climate change and health, and the relationship between media and health.

John Potter is a Professor at Massey and Chief Science Advisor, Ministry of Health, Wellington, and Senior Advisor, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology at the University of Washington, both in Seattle, USA. His career is focussed on nutrition, other environmental and host factors, and genetics in the aetiology, pathobiology, and early detection of cancers and other chronic diseases. This has broadened to “planetary overload”, especially in relation to diet and environmental degradation. International recognition includes AACR Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention (2009) and the 2012 Medal of Honour of IARC. Scopus H-Index: 108 and author/co-author of more than 680 scientific papers, chapters, and books.

Simon Hales is an environmental epidemiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Otago in Wellington. He has an interest in the atmospheric environment and global issues. Simon's current projects include: assessing health aspects of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NZ and Fiji), estimating the global burden of disease attributable to climate change, empirical modelling of communicable disease in relation to climate, and the health co benefits of climate change mitigation.

Nick Wilson is a public health medicine physician and Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago in Wellington. His research interests include infectious disease control with a particular focus on pandemic influenza but also other infectious diseases, reducing the effects of climate change, the health economics of primary prevention, and tobacco use epidemiology and control.

Tim Blackmore is an Infectious Disease Physician and Microbiologist at Capital and Coast District Health Board. Tim has particular expertise in antimicrobial resistance and nosocomial illness. He has experience in combatting outbreaks of hospital acquired illness and resistant organisms. He chairs the New Zealand Microbiology Network.

Michelle Balm is a Clinical Microbiologist and Infectious Diseases Physician at Aotea Pathology and Capital and Coast District Health Board. Michelle has special interests in the epidemiology and control of infectious diseases especially multidrug resistant organisms, emerging viral infections and innovative diagnostic methods including molecular diagnostics.

Ayesha Verrall is an Infectious Diseases Physician and Clinical Epidemiologist at the University of Otago Wellington. She trained with WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) before joining an WHO Tropical Diseases Research project to improve Dengue surveillance and preparedness in endemic countries. Ayesha is experienced in tropical diseases particularly in Asia following a DTHMH, fellowship at National University Singapore and doctoral field-work in Indonesia. Ayesha’s interests include vaccines, Dengue and Tuberculosis.

Nicholas Jones is Medical Officer of Health for Hawkes Bay DHB. He is a public health physician with a strong interest in population health, particularly with respect to infectious disease control and prevention. He has worked extensively in outbreak control and has expertise in pandemic planning and preparedness. He has taken a central role in managing the public health response to the recent Havelock North waterborne outbreak of campylobacteriosis, the largest documented common source outbreak of its type.

Ryan McLane has worked in public health in a range of settings over the past two decades, including managing a public health unit in the Alaskan arctic; leading a clinical team in an Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone; and providing direct care for populations as diverse as indigenous Siberians, undocumented agricultural workers in California, and civilians caught in civil conflict in Guatemala. He holds a BS Nursing, MPH, MS International Relations and his PhD work with the University of Otago focused upon the 1918 influenza pandemic in the Samoas, Tonga, and Fiji. He is currently employed by the New Zealand Ministry of Health's Communicable Disease Team.

Peter Griffin is the founding manager of the Science Media Centre (SMC) and the founder and editor of Sciblogs. Prior to founding the SMC, he was Technology Editor of the New Zealand Herald and spent nearly eight years covering business and technology for the paper as a reporter and columnist, winning numerous awards. He was the technology columnist for the Herald on Sunday and a commentator for TVNZ, Radio New Zealand and Radio Live while as a freelancer he wrote widely on technology for magazines such as PC World, Idealog and the New Zealand Listener. In 2005 he relocated to Wellington to complete a master’s degree in creative writing at Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 21 December 2016.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now