Edited by: Delia Grace, Dr Fred Unger, Prof. Xiao-Nong Zhou
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), such as avian influenza (H7N9), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and dengue have potential to cause epidemics and pandemics. Southeast Asia and China, where some of these diseases were first recognized, are considered as global “hot spots” for disease emergence. Increases in the rate of emergence of diseases in this region imply conventional approaches to disease emergence are not working. New approaches, such as EcoHealth, that shift from silo thinking to transdiciplinarity, aim for more effective prevention and control of EIDs. The last decade has seen major initiatives to implement EcoHealth in the region.
EcoHealth as an emerging field of research responds to the question of how changes in the earth’s ecosystems can affect human health. EcoHealth examines changes in the biological, physical, social and economic environments and relates these changes to human health. EcoHealth is a subject with six principles including transdisciplinary, participation, gender and social equity, system-thinking, sustainability and research-to-action, and brings together physicians, veterinarians, ecologists, economists, social scientists, decision makers and others to investigate the relations between ecosystems and human health. It aims for innovative, practical solutions that reduce or reverse the negative health effects of ecosystem change and which can bring about improvements to human, animal and ecosystem health.
In this issue we present a series of papers under the theme of "Dynamics between environmental change, development, and EIDs in Asia", in order to showcase existing, but also encourage future, EcoHealth research in Asia and beyond. We anticipate that published research on effectiveness, impact and uptake will lead to a wider acceptance of EcoHealth among policy makers, research communities and stakeholders and contribute to more effective interventions to manage regional and global risks of epidemics or pandemics.