It is my pleasure to announce the Eighth International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance, IMED 2021. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to allow global participation, IMED 2021 will be held virtually from November 4-6, 2021. IMED 2021 will once again share breakthroughs in the emerging diseases community with leading scientists, clinicians, policy makers, veterinarians, and ecologists. Given IMED’s One Health focus, content will discuss how to detect, monitor, understand, prevent, and respond to outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and toxic exposures across all species and regions of the world.
Since the last IMED in 2018, the world has seen the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and the accompanying unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enhanced by international travel, inequitable access to medical resources, and misinformation, COVID-19 has caused unprecedented morbidity and mortality not seen since the 1918 influenza pandemic. In spite of these challenges, the infectious diseases and broader One Health community have faced every challenge with evidence-based science, resilience, and innovation. Multiple vaccines based on new delivery mechanisms have been developed and administered to millions around the world. Research journals have committed themselves to publishing open-access information at record speeds. Data streams have been tested, refined, and deployed to help officials make informed decisions to prevent new infections. The all-hands-on-deck approach required to understand and contain the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the true power of a unified global One Health response.
While COVID-19 has captured the world’s attention, other emerging disease challenges have persisted in the shadows. The slow burning antimicrobial resistance pandemic remains a pressing challenge that requires significant investment of will, money, and research. Climate change is fostering new environments rife with previously undetected vectors. Vaccination campaigns aimed at polio and measles have faltered in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns. Interruptions to HIV treatment and prevention services have stymied progress for an untold number of people. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Ebola Virus Disease, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Nipah, and Lyme Disease are just a small fraction of infections that require constant surveillance. Overwhelmed hospitals and health care services combined with fear of COVID-19 transmission has led to emergence of numerous other diseases in the communities. Simply focusing on one infectious disease challenge enhances the opportunity for other infectious microbes to thrive undetected. The One Health community is acutely aware of these challenges and understands lessons learned in previous catastrophes hold clues to prevent the next crisis.
IMED has always been the summit that unifies our approach to pathogens in the broadest ecological context. Drawing together human, veterinary, and environmental health specialists, IMED continues to serve as a true One Health forum where those working in diverse specialties and regions can present, discuss, and challenge one another with findings and new ideas.
The Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED) and the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), along with all of our collaborating organizations, look forward to sharing these critical emerging disease updates with our One Health community.
Dr. Marjorie Pollack
Deputy Editor, ProMED
Co-Chair, IMED 2021 Scientific Program Committee