The 2018 annual review of the Blueprint priority diseases list from the World Health Organization (WHO) has been released, revealing the diseases that pose a public health risk because of their potential to cause an epidemic and for which there are no, or insufficient countermeasures.
This Blueprint is a special tool created by the Word Health Organization to determine which priority diseases and pathogens require research and development in the contexts of public health emergencies.
The last review was in January 2017 and the second annual review occurred on 6-7 February 2018.
The summarised list is as follows:
- Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF);
- Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease;
- Lassa fever;
- Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS);
- Nipah and henipaviral diseases;
- Rift Valley fever (RVF);
- Zika; and
- Disease X.
What was considered for the list?
There were a number of additional diseases considered for the priority list, including arenaviral haemorrhagic fevers other than Lassa fever, chikungunya, and highly pathogenic coronaviral diseases other than MERS and SARS.
These diseases are a major public health risk, and further research and development is needed, including surveillance and diagnostics.
Other diseases discussed
There were diseases not included on the list but considered in the meeting – monkeypox and leptospirosis – and experts stressed the risks they also pose to public health.
Several diseases were determined to be outside the current scope of the Blueprint:
- Yellow fever;
- Influenza causing severe human disease;
- West Nile virus; and
The importance of the diseases discussed was considered for special populations, such as refugees, internally displaced populations, and victims of disasters.
There are also concerted efforts taking place to address antimicrobial resistance through specific international initiatives. The WHO did not exclude the possibility of a resistant pathogen emerging and being appropriately prioritised.