The Failings of the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies (APSED)
The blunt of the blame for the COVID-19 coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 does not belong to China, the World Health Organization (the WHO), Europe, or President Trump. If you must blame someone or something, hoard your reprehension on the very organization responsible for preparing against the coronavirus’s spread: The Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies (APSED). By focusing on the preparedness of healthcare systems and the “prevention of healthcare” infection spread rather than on cultural and societal prevention, the APSED has failed the world and imperiled humanity as we know it.
What is the APSED?
The Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies is a strategic framework first agreed to in 2005 among Western Pacific and South-East Asia region World Health Organization (WHO) member countries, such as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia. The framework originally served to facilitate compliance with the WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005) that emerged following the SARS epidemic in 2003. The latest strategy framework in 2017 focused on strengthening healthcare systems for preparation and response to emerging infectious diseases (EIDs). The framework specifically includes a “pandemic influenza preparedness framework” and acknowledges the threat of EIDs such as human infections with novel influenza virus subtypes.
How was the APSED so Short-sighted?
Rather than focusing on preventing zoonotic diseases and EIDs at their origin, the APSED targets healthcare systems. The framework specifically states, “to prevent history from repeating itself [with a novel influenza virus pandemic such as SARS], there is a need to embed a culture of good infection prevention and control practices within health-care settings.” Though these practices are necessary, hindsight has proven them insufficient.
Zoonotic diseases, as is COVID-19, are a delineated focus area of the framework. The framework notes, “zoonoses [zoonotic diseases] are highly prevalent in the Asia Pacific region due to the complex social, cultural and economic interactions between human and animal populations and the…