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The project devised a simple but novel methodology for identifying possible future trends in infectious diseases in animals and humans in China, of priority concern to the Chinese authorities. It used a model of disease drivers (social, economic, biological or environmental factors that affect disease outcomes, by changing the behaviour of diseases, sources or pathways) devised for the Foresight Programme in the United Kingdom. Nine families of drivers were adapted to Chinese circumstances and matrices were constructed to identify the likely relationship of single infectious diseases or families of diseases to the drivers. The likely future trends in those drivers in China were determined by interviews with 36 independent Chinese experts. These trends included not only potentially adverse animal and human movements but also opportunities for innovative surveillance methods, more use of hospitals, antimicrobials and vaccines. Some human behaviours and social trends were expected to increase the risk of infections (in particular sexually transmitted and healthcare-associated infections) while at the same time the experts thought the awareness of risk in the Chinese population would increase. The results suggested a number of areas where the Chinese authorities may experience difficulties in the future, such as rising numbers of healthcare-associated infections, zoonoses and other emerging diseases and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV). Not making firm predictions, this work identifies priority disease groups requiring surveillance and consideration of countermeasures as well as recommending strengthening basic surveillance and response mechanisms for unanticipatable zoonoses and other emerging disease threats.


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