Purdue to work with Pakistan on early warning detection program

U.S. Senator Dick Lugar recently announced that Purdue University will receive a $1.6 million grant from the Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction program to develop real-time infectious disease surveillance programs in Pakistan.

The goal of the five year collaboration between Purdue University and three Pakistani universities is to develop a system for collecting and analyzing infectious disease data in Pakistan.

The added bioterrorism threat in Pakistan, officials stressed, adds to the need for such a system.
“With the growing security and bioterrorism threats in Pakistan, there is a dire need to develop a robust and reliable health surveillance and rapid-response infrastructure with the capability to collect and analyze massive, time-evolving epidemic data in real-time,” Defense Threat Reduction Agency officials said. “The goal is to mitigate human and financial losses, a challenge exacerbated in highly populous areas where thousands of new cases can occur on a daily basis.”

DTRA officials noted that a lack of such systems in Pakistan poses serious threats to both the health and security of the general public.

“In fact, monitoring and response to any natural or manmade ID outbreak is nonexistent in the country due to insufficient resources, ineffective screening, poorly trained staff and inadequate health policy implementation,” the DTRA officials concluded. “The absence of security measures for protecting supply of food products and drinking water exposes additional serious health and security vulnerabilities.”