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Foresight on Future Infectious Diseases: Developing an Integrative Risk Analysis Process

Meagher, L   Lyall, C   Nutley, S

January 2008

This paper derives from the UK Foresight project which reported on the projected risks from infectious diseases of humans, animals and plants over 10- and 25-year time horizons, comparing three geographical regions: the UK, sub-Saharan Africa and China. This paper reports on the risk analysis of future infectious disease incidence which underpinned this Foresight project and proposes a new decision-making tool to enable better understanding of the socio-economic risk factors of disease to be captured and integrated in the risk analysis process.

Over 300 experts from over 30 countries were consulted using a variety of methods including surveys and specially commissioned expert reviews. Results emphasised the importance of interactions among the drivers, sources and pathways of disease which formed the framework for the risk analysis approach. Using data collected from these expert sources we developed an algorithm-based tool for considering future disease risks and decision-making on the need for and use of detection, identification and monitoring (DIM) technology. The possible application of this decision-making tool is illustrated using exemplars derived from expert case studies. Decision-making in other areas may benefit from a similar modelling approach that allows a complex interdisciplinary risk situation to be broken down into more manageable elements.

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