Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, 2001-2018

Int J Health Policy Manag. 2021 Mar 6. doi: 10.34172/ijhpm.2021.13. Online ahead of print.


Background: Countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) are predisposed to highly contagious, severe and fatal, emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), and re-emerging infectious diseases (RIDs). This paper reviews the epidemiological situation of EIDs and RIDs of global concern in the EMR between 2001 and 2018.

Methods: To do a narrative review, a complete list of studies in the field was we prepared following a systematic search approach. Studies that were purposively reviewed were identified to summarize the epidemiological situation of each targeted disease. A comprehensive search of all published studies on EIDs and RIDs between 2001 and 2018 was carried out through search engines including Medline, Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar, and ScienceDirect.

Results: Leishmaniasis, hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis E virus (HEV) are reported from all countries in the region. Chikungunya, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), dengue fever, and H5N1 have been increasing in number, frequency, and expanding in their geographic distribution. Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which was reported in this region in 2012 is still a public health concern. There are challenges to control cholera, diphtheria, leishmaniasis, measles, and poliomyelitis in some of the countries. Moreover, Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever (AHF), and Rift Valley fever (RVF) are limited to some countries in the region. Also, there is little information about the real situation of the plague, Q fever, and tularemia.

Conclusion: EIDs and RIDs are prevalent in most countries in the region and could further spread within the region. It is crucial to improve regional capacities and capabilities in preventing and responding to disease outbreaks with adequate resources and expertise.

Keywords: CCHF; Eastern Mediterranean Region; Emerging Infectious Diseases; MERS-CoV; Neglected Tropical Diseases; Zoonosis.