In just the past decade, the signiﬁcance of dengue as a threat to health and a burden on health services and economies has increased substantially. Compared with the situation 50 years ago, the worldwide incidence of dengue has risen 30-fold.
More countries are reporting their ﬁrst outbreaks. More outbreaks are explosive in ways that severely disrupt societies and drain economies. Today, dengue ranks as the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. Everywhere, the human and economic costs are staggering.
In a sense, this neglected tropical disease has taken the world by surprise, with few coherent and coordinated efforts, at national or international levels, undertaken to hold dengue at bay and reverse these alarming trends.
The Global strategy for dengue prevention and control, 2012–2020, aims to correct this situation. It answers requests, by multiple WHO Member States, for advice on how to move from a reactive response to an emergency situation to proactive risk assessment, early warning systems, and preventive measures, guided by entomological as well as epidemiological surveillance.
Above all, the Global strategy emphasizes the many new opportunities, opened by country experiences and recent research, also on vaccines, that can be seized to reduce morbidity and mortality, rationalize the disease response, and build capacities that increase resilience to future outbreaks.
To this end, the document also serves as an investment case, spelling out the steps that can be taken to improve risk assessment and mapping, stockpiling and logistics, surveillance and diagnostic capacity, behavioural and social interventions, and risk communication.
A complex disease like dengue demands a multipronged response that engages government ministries well beyond the health sector. The Global strategy promotes coordinated action among multisectoral partners, an integrated approach to vector management, and sustained control measures at all levels.
Its guiding principle is to harmonize prevention, entomological and epidemiological surveillance, and case management with existing health systems, ensuring that efforts are coherent, sustainable, cost-effective and ecologically sound.