Global Foodborne Infections Network, formerly known as WHO Global Salm-Surv (GFN)
A collaboration between WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other international public health organizations.
Safe food is essential in maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle. Foods can harbor harmful microorganisms that may cause serious human illnesses. WHO defines foodborne illnesses as “diseases, usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food” and estimates that each year two million people die from diarrhoeal diseases, mostly attributed to contaminated food and drinking water.
In developing countries, where diarrhoeal diseases are particularly prevalent, determining the proportion due to foodborne diseases can be difficult. Clinical laboratory and public health infrastructure to perform such assessments is not present in all nations. A 1997 WHO survey revealed that up to one-third of WHO Member States indicated a lack of basic infrastructure for laboratory-based surveillance for foodborne diseases.
Recognizing the public health importance of foodborne diseases and the need to strengthen public health infrastructure globally, the Global Foodborne Infections Network, a World Health Organization sponsored program, was launched in 2000. The Global Foodborne Infections Network is a capacity-building program that trains international microbiologists and epidemiologists on foodborne disease laboratory-based surveillance and outbreak detection and response through training courses and other program activities.
Founding members of the Global Foodborne Infections Network included the World Health Organization, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Food Institute-Technical University of Denmark. In recent years, additional partners have joined the Global Foodborne Infections Network: Reseau International des Instituts Pasteur (France), Public Health Agency of Canada, Animal Sciences Group (Netherlands), Food and Drug Administration (United States of America), Enter-net (European Union) and OzFoodNet (Australia).
Global Foodborne Infections Network Vision
Foodborne and other infectious enteric diseases are a common cause of illness, disability and death worldwide. We believe they are preventable and therefore, place an unnecessary burden on society. Our vision is that all countries will prevent and control these diseases.
Global Foodborne Infections Network Mission
To promote integrated, laboratory-based surveillance and foster intersectoral collaboration among human health, veterinary and food-related disciplines, thereby enhancing the capacity of countries to detect, respond to and prevent foodborne diseases.
Details about the Global Foodborne Infections Network, including descriptions of training and program activities, can be found at www.who.int/gfn/en.
A steering committee partner of Global Foodborne Infections Network, PulseNet International works with more than 120 laboratories from more than 60 countries to identify and investigate outbreaks.