To assist WHO in further development and implementation of tools for food and waterborne infectious disease burden estimations in a One Health approach (ToR 2).
In 2005 the WHO Foodborne Burden of Disease Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) initiated first ever estimates of the global and regional burden of foodborne disease. The results of this initiative were published in a report and six publications and a FERG symposium was organized in the fall of 2015. In addition to providing global and regional estimates, FERG sought to promote actions at a national level. This involved capacity building through national foodborne disease burden studies, and encouraging the use of burden of disease estimates in evidence-informed policy setting. Pilot studies were conducted in four countries (Albania, Japan, Thailand and Uganda) and a suite of tools and resources were created to facilitate national studies of the foodborne burden of disease.
After the completion of the FERG initiative, WHO advances with strengthening the capacity of countries in conducting burden of foodborne disease assessments and increasing the number of countries that undertake burden of foodborne disease studies. For this purpose, these activities were designated in the WHO Collaborating Centre for Risk Assessment of Pathogens in Water and Food (specifically ToR 2 To assist WHO in further development and implementation of tools for food and waterborne infectious disease burden estimations in a One Health approach).
The CC supports FERG Country Studies Task Force in setting up user-friendly tools to estimate national burden of foodborne disease. It also supports training activities for the implementation of these tools, through the Global Foodborne Infections Network or otherwise. Our Collaborating Centre was asked to co-chair one of the five working groups.
Efforts are focused on finalising the global burden estimates and submitting a series of papers to PLoS Medicine after clearance by WHO.
The FERG country studies are on-going, with draft manuscripts being prepared on progress in all four pilot contries (Albania, Japan, Thailand, Uganda). A paper on progress with the country studies will also be part of the FERG collection in PLoS Medicine.
The Global Foodborne Infections Network, part of the WHO, is a worldwide network with the aim to improve the diagnosis, and control of foodborne illnesses in developing countries by capacity building. Since its inception, GFN has focused on developing national capacities to detect, monitor and respond to food safety events, effectively manage antimicrobial resistance, and prevent disease transmission at the human-animal-ecosystem interface through efficient multi-sectoral collaboration. Historically the focus of the network has been on delivering high quality multi-sectoral training aimed at strengthening integrated surveillance along the food chain. Whilst this will remain a key focus area, other priorities have been also identified through:
- Direct country consultation as part of the WHO regional and country planning process
- WHO Member States’ effort to develop national capacities required as part of the all hazard approach under the International Health Regulations (2005), and as part of requirements for entering regional free trade agreement
- Development of the WHO Strategic Plan for Food Safety Including Foodborne Zoonoses