The Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance Network was established in 1999 through initial support from the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2005, NTI joined the effort to gather public health experts and academicians from Cambodia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos to enhance cooperation in detecting and controlling infectious disease.
NTI’s efforts have helped to build and strengthen relationships among networks of public health professionals in Southeast Asia. Members of the network now regularly exchange information, participate in cross-border meetings, and receive training to enhance surveillance and detection capabilities.
In 2007, NTI co-sponsored the first-ever simulation exercise to test responses to a pandemic influenza emergency. This table-top exercise engaged scientific and public health professionals from the countries in the Mekong Basin most vulnerable to naturally occurring or intentionally spread pandemic flu. The exercise helped to identify gaps in the systems for detecting, monitoring, tracking, and containing infectious disease threats and response.
The network’s merits were put to the test the next year. Following the 2008 cyclone disaster in Myanmar, network members built on existing relationships and collaborative efforts to send a medical team of 32 network representatives to assist refugees and address concerns about potential outbreaks of infectious respiratory diseases, which could have spread to neighboring regions.