Public Health and Vector-Borne Diseases – A New Concept for Risk Governance
Public Health is defined as an interdisciplinary multilevel approach that deals with questions of preventing diseases at the population level. In this context, this paper focuses on vector-borne diseases as an important threat with an increasing impact on human and animal health. Emphasis is laid on an integrated health approach (‘One-Health’ initiative) as it recognizes the interrelated nature of both human and animal health. The importance of vector-borne diseases to new and emerging diseases in Europe was demonstrated, for example, by the recent outbreak of West Nile virus infections in Greece, Northern Italy and Hungary; the spread of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus across Turkey, south-western countries of the former USSR and the Balkans; the dramatic increase in hantavirus infections in Germany in 2012; and the dengue virus outbreak in Portugal in the same year. This paper provides a systematic approach for the analysis, assessment and governance of emerging health risks attributed to vector-borne diseases by using a holistic approach developed by the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), called the ‘IRGC Risk Governance Framework’. It can be used by decision-makers and general Public Health authorities in order to evaluate the situation regarding any specific pathogen or Public Health risk and to decide if additional measures should be implemented.