The public health agency of Canada, Health Canada, has developed a new global system to detect public health and bioterrorism threats. The system was recently unveiled at the United Nations. The new Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) uses a unique combination of leading-edge technologies to provide an early warning system in six languages for potentially serious public health events around the world. In addition to alerts of public health news, it will have a searchable database available to users.
The system will be used to track high-profile threats, as well as lesser problems such as contamination to food and water sources, natural disasters, and unsafe medical products, drugs and medical devices. WHO is a key recipient of the alerts, and is using the information to develop plans of action to control outbreaks. During its pilot phase, GPHIN was able to detect two-thirds of the 950 outbreaks that WHO investigated in the last two years. Besides a disease outbreak, the system could be used in the event a chemical, biological or nuclear terror attack has occurred.
It is expected that government agencies, NGOs and educational institutions will be the main users of the system. GPHIN will charge a fee for access to the services. The fee will be based on the organization’s size, the number of potential users and any customized features that are needed. Visit the network’s website at http://gphin-rmisp.hc-sc.gc.ca for information on how to subscribe to the services.