The study of causes, distribution, spread and control of diseases in populations, epidemiology, is a fundamental science and an integral part of public health. Epidemiology has helped address old public health challenges and continues to be a tool to investigate new challenges by providing evidence required for sound public health action.
Efforts to strengthen epidemiology should remain a priority of Member States even when plagued by the challenge of climate change, an energy crisis or a global financial crisis.
"To address each of these challenges, what we need is the information or the evidence or data not only for developing of our strategies and policies, but also for advocacy," said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia at the inauguration of a "Regional Meeting on Application of Epidemiological Principles for Public Health Action" in New Delhi.
The two-day meeting is aimed at formulating an agreed framework for action, both within WHO and in Member States. This would help to strengthen epidemiological capacities in the Region and to apply this know-how and skills to overcome current public health challenges such as those arising from the current financial downturn, climate change and from emergence of new pathogens.
"The main idea behind this meeting is to ascertain how we can together strengthen and focus our attention on the application of epidemiological concepts and principles in national health programme development and management of health problems," said Dr Jai P. Narain, Director, Communicable Diseases, WHO SEARO.
More than 50 eminent epidemiologists are attending this two-day regional meeting.