In Asia where many of the possible etiologies are of major public health concerns, acute encephalitis is among the most frequent and severe causes of pediatric hospitalization. Moreover, encephalitis etiologies remain unknown in more than 60% of patients. Because the epidemiological situation in developing Southeast Asian countries is particularly appropriate to reveal the circulation of emerging infectious agents, the surveillance and investigation of acute encephalitis syndrome in vulnerable population, especially children, is of utmost public health importance, both locally and globally.
A new inter-organizational and multidisciplinary initiative was launched involving a consortium of five Southeast Asian countries (i.e. Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam) and France, which have decided to join their efforts to address some of the most important questions raised by infectious encephalitis in Southeast Asia.
This initiative called the SEAe project, for SouthEast Asia encephalitis, aims to fill the biomedical knowledge gaps regarding acute encephalitis syndrome, strengthen laboratories capacities, identify unknown pathogens responsible for encephalitis cases, and ultimately enhance health by improving diagnosis and care for patients, providing information to clinicians and public health stakeholders.
Supported by AVIESAN Sud (the French National Alliance for Life and Health), this broad partnership involves local major university and hospitals, French stakeholders from life and health sciences with research activities carried out within the Southeast Asian region such as: Institut Pasteur and Institut Pasteur International Network, Inserm, Cirad, IRD - Aix-Marseille University, Fondation Mérieux, and teams from the Wellcome Trust - Oxford University.
The kick-off meeting of the SEAe project’s preparatory phase was held on 16-17 September 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand.