Improving infectious disease surveillance and vaccination policies

woman having nasal swab test

Many vaccines for infectious diseases only target a limited number of bacterial strains, allowing new strains to emerge that may be more pathogenic, antibiotic resistant and increase the risk of epidemics. Climate change in Malaysia due to industrial air pollution along with changes in seasonal monsoon patterns is likely to increase the prevalence of infectious diseases, particularly of the respiratory tract.

The project team has developed an infectious disease research network which implemented a multi-centre respiratory tract carriage study, analysing samples from different urban and rural sites in both Peninsular and East Malaysia. Basic demographic data and information on vaccine history, recent illness and antibiotic usage was also gathered from participants, who included people from indigenous communities. The work has gained data on the potential emergence of microbial strains, the epidemiology of vaccine preventable infections and the prevalence of antibiotic resistance.

This network aims to improve health by improving infectious disease surveillance of respirator pathogens and influencing vaccine policy in Malaysia. Workshops have been held for Malaysian academics and healthcare practitioners to build their skills in cutting edge microbiology techniques, genomics-based technologies and bioinformatics.

Our studies will look at the burden of infectious diseases in relation to urbanisation and climate change, to see how these threats are interlinked in Malaysia with the aim of
informing vaccine policy.

Dr Stuart Clarke

This project was shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2017

Assessing the Risk of Emerging Microbes During Vaccine Implementation and Climate Change through Population Based Carriage Studies of the Upper Respiratory Tract in All Age Groups

Project leads: Dr Stuart Clarke, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton, UK and Professor Dr Norazmi Mohd Nor, Universiti Sains

Malaysia Collaborators: International Medical University Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Universiti of Malaya and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

Project partners: British Council and Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology

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