Countries in South Asian are "vulnerable" to emerging infectious diseases like Zika and Ebola.
Level of preparedness of these countries is not enough to protect public health from these diseases, a new analysis has revealed.
The countries are already burdened by diseases like tuberculosis, HIV and malaria, an analysis as part of a collection of twelve analyses on health in South Asia published in British Medical Journal (BMJ) said, according to a report published inwww.thequint.com.
Inadequate surveillance and uneven health system capacity may accelerate the spread of the emerging infectious diseases in the region.
The analysis pointed out that although sporadic cases of dengue infection were seen in many South Asian countries in the 1960s, regular epidemics only occurred in the early 1990s in India and Sri Lanka.
Noting that Anthrax is endemic in large parts of South Asia, the analysis said that in the border areas of India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, poor vaccination and surveillance have been accompanied by "increasing" anthrax cases, which prompted Bangladesh to announce a "red alert" in 2010.
"Brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, and a range of food-borne diseases contribute to the morbidity and mortality attributable to zoonotic infections but are struggling to gain the attention of policymakers in the subcontinent, despite it resulting in 150 million illnesses, 175,000 deaths, and 12 million disability-adjusted life years," the analysis said.
The analysis found that the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus A/H5N1, which was introduced to the subcontinent in 2005 through wild birds, has since become endemic across large parts of northeast India and Bangladesh, across porous international borders.
South Asia is defined by the World Bank as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and is home to a quarter of the world's population.
It bears a significant proportion of the global burden of infectious disease, with longstanding battles against TB, HIV and malaria.
"Emerging and growing infectious diseases, like Zika, Ebola, MERS-CoV, and avian influenza, are adding to the already significant burden of disease, and their spread may accelerate in the face of factors such as inadequate surveillance and uneven health system capacity.”