What are the World Health Organization's views on epidemiology?


Quick Answer

The World Health Organization views epidemiology as an important asset towards limiting the severity of disease outbreaks and epidemics. Specifically, the organization invests in field epidemiology to develop reliable early warning systems, epidemic preparation routines and quick responses to communicable disease outbreaks in vulnerable populations.

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Full Answer

Delays in the detection of disease outbreaks and lack of preparedness increase the impact of epidemics and communicable disease outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization. Field epidemiology lessens the severity of this impact by decreasing the number of cases in an epidemic, decreasing the duration of the epidemic, reducing its mortality and controlling its potential to spread.

Examples of events where the organization's field epidemiology team accomplished these goals through implementing early warning surveillance programs include the Pakistan floods of 2010 and the Myanmar cyclone of 2008, according to the World Health Organization. Examples of events when the organizations field epidemiology team contained disease outbreaks through quick response include when cholera struck Pakistan and Haiti in 2010 and when an unknown illness struck Somalia in 2009. Examples of events when surveillance reviews and surveys helped provide a consistent epidemiology evaluation include the eradication of polio in Congo in 2010 and the eradication of guinea worms in Northern Uganda in 2009.

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