About MBDS

Brief History Of The Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS)


Initial Vision: Reduce morbidity caused by outbreak-prone priority diseases.

Mission: strengthen national and sub-regional capabilities in infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response, especially for priority diseases, to rapidly and effectively control them.


  1. Reduce morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases, particularly amongst marginalized people living in the Mekong region, by developing an integrated approach to disease surveillance and response across borders.
  2. Establish partnerships with other existing cooperation mechanisms.

General Objectives:

  1.  Develop mechanisms within a conceptual model for building strong cross border programs and implement in 5 pilot sites.
  2.  Develop tools and skills among key stakeholders to solve issues and problems in a coordinated way.

Specific Objectives:

  1. Enhance activities for information exchange across borders.
  2. Develop and conduct training courses to strengthen capacities for disease surveillance.
  3. Develop a strategy for joint cross-border outbreak investigation and response.
  4. Share experiences in dealing with surveillance as well as solving border health issues by a coordinated team.
  5. Rationalize cross border laboratory capacity to support surveillance activities.
  6. Develop indicators for monitoring progress.
  7. Use of planning process (plan-implement-evaluate-act-plan) to promote team development.
  8. Develop research knowledge and skills for further strengthening and development of a concrete model for disease surveillance and control of communicable diseases along the border areas.

Core values: mutual trust, transparency, cooperative spirit.

Priority diseases addressed: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), avian influenza, malaria, dengue, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cholera, acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), typhoid, measles, tuberculosis (TB)


  1. building: applied epidemiology and GIS at central and provincial levels.
  2. Piloting of cross-border cooperation: Regular information exchange, joint outbreak investigation, cross-border meetings, monitoring and evaluation, multi-sector engagement (especially immigration, local authorities), cross-border epidemiologic case history, cross-border medical care and clinical follow-up, expansion to nearby provincial areas.
  3. Tabletop exercises (TTXs) at country and regional levels.
  4. Structure and governance of MBDS; Executive Board, Country coordinators, Coordinating Office.

Current context:

  1. MBDS network now well established, based on core values.
  2. New Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by MBDS health ministers May 2007 (Geneva), for indefinite time period.
  3. International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) – requirements to build core capacities, the capacity to respond promptly and effectively to public health risks and Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC).
  4. MBDS countries span two different WHO regional offices.
  5. Expanded MBDS partnerships (Rockefeller Foundation [RF], Nuclear Threat Initiative [NTI], Google, RAND, World Health Organization [WHO], United Nations System Influenza Coordination [UNSIC], U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID]/Kenan Institute, Asian Development Bank [ADB], Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN]).
  6. Growing MBDS visibility (e.g., through TTXs and MBDS Executive Board members’ interactions with high level counterparts)
  7. MBDS core values (including and expanding beyond original ones): mutual trust, transparency, cooperative spirit, building on past programming and successes, learning and growing within MBDS, external partnerships, path-finding and innovation, sharing experiences beyond MBDS.


  1. Reduce the spread and impact of outbreak-prone diseases including public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
  2. Serve as a model for sub-regional cooperation.


Build on past achievements to further enhance national and regional disease prevention and control.

General Goals:

  1. Strengthen sustainable national core capacities and Sub-regional cooperation in disease surveillance and information sharing, outbreak investigation and response for priority diseases and PHEIC in order that they can be rapidly and effectively controlled (consistent with IHR 2005).
  2.  Provide essential information for the development of health and social policy to reduce the burden arising from these priority diseases.
  3. Strengthen partnerships with other existing cooperation mechanisms.


Figure 1. Interrelated nature of the six MBDS core strategies


General Objective 1: Implement Seven Core Strategies.

Over 2008-2013, MBDS partners will focus on the implementation of seven inter-related core strategies identified by MBDS leadership:

  1. Maintain and expand cross-border cooperation
  2. Improve human-animal sector interface and strengthen community-based   surveillance.
  3. Strengthen epidemiology capacity
  4. Strengthen Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) capacity
  5. Strengthen laboratory capacity
  6. Strengthen risk communications
  7. Conduct and apply policy research

General Objective 2: Improve Pandemic Influenza Preparedness in the Region.

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