A Look Ahead

Although the vast majority of the microbes we encounter every day cause no harm, those that do lead to illness or death cannot be ignored. Dramatic advances in sanitation, as well as science, technology, and medicine, have enabled us to make great strides in our struggle to prevent and control infectious diseases. Yet pathogens—old and new—are endlessly resourceful in adapting to and breaching our defenses. In addition, factors related to society, the environment, and our increasing global interconnectedness enhance the likelihood of disease emergence and spread. Moreover, it is a sad reality that today we must also grapple with the potential use of biological agents to do harm, human against human.

Prevention and control of infectious diseases are fundamental to individual, national, and global security. Failure to recognize—and act on—this essential truth will surely lead to disaster. The magnitude of the problem requires renewed and sustained commitment from policy makers, public health officials, and a concerned public. Despite past achievements, we have still not done enough in our own defense or in the defense of others. But in looking at our prospects, it is clear that the best defense against any disease outbreak will be a robust public health system, both in its science and practice. Sustained attention, dedication, and support will be essential. Only in this way will we be able to ensure the health and safety of our nation—and the world.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 41
A Look Ahead Although the vast majority of the microbes we Prevention and control of infectious diseases are encounter every day cause no harm, those that fundamental to individual, national, and global do lead to illness or death cannot be ignored. security. Failure to recognize—and act on—this Dramatic advances in sanitation, as well as essential truth will surely lead to disaster. The science, technology, and medicine, have enabled magnitude of the problem requires renewed and us to make great strides in our struggle to prevent sustained commitment from policy makers, public and control infectious diseases. Yet pathogens— health officials, and a concerned public. Despite old and new—are endlessly resourceful in adapting past achievements, we have still not done enough in to and breaching our defenses. In addition, our own defense or in the defense of others. But in factors related to society, the environment, and looking at our prospects, it is clear that the best our increasing global interconnectedness defense against any disease outbreak will be enhance the likelihood of disease a robust public health system, both in emergence and spread. Moreover, its science and practice. Sustained it is a sad reality that today we attention, dedication, and support must also grapple with the will be essential. Only in this potential use of biological way will we be able to ensure agents to do harm, human the health and safety of our against human. nation—and the world. 41