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Infectious diseases as well as potential health threats do not have geographical boundaries. A part from few infectious diseases for which a valid and efficacious vaccine is available, surveillance is the only available instrument that public health personnel can use to contain the spread of infectious diseases. However, in order to translate data into appropriate action, dissemination of information is crucial. Furthermore, an early detection of cases and a cross-border, harmonic and prompt response is needed to effectively contain the spread of diseases.

The countries of the Mediterranean area have common sea borders in the remarkable ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and, as a result, they also share common public health problems.

In occasion of the Year of the Mediterranean (2005), a number of countries agreed to develop the project "EpiSouth", whose aim is to create a framework of collaboration on epidemiological issues in order to improve communicable diseases surveillance, communication and training across the countries of the Mediterranean and the Balkans.

Once the project had been approved by EU-DGSANCO, the effort done by the EpiSouth Project Steering Committee was to verify the strategic possibility to involve in the Project all the interested countries of Mediterranean area.

In this framework, the 1st Project Meeting was organised in Rome in March 2007. In addition to the 9 Countries which were involved in the project from the beginning, 13 countries from the Balkans, North Africa and Middle East participated to the meeting together with representatives of EU DGSANCO, EU ECDC, and WHO. Once the EpiSouth project objectives and methodology were discussed, the new organization and partnership were elaborated.

As per June 2010, the EpiSouth Network counts 27 Countries (9 EU and 18 non-EU), which have identified and appointed 66 Focal Points, plus 7 representatives from Collaborating Institutions.

The EpiSouth project receives funds from the European Commission (DG SANCO) and the Italian Ministry for Health (EpiMed Project). In addition, the financial support of EC EuropeAid and DG Enlargement through the TAIEX facility has made possible the participation of non-EU Countries to the 1st and 2nd EpiSouth Project Meetings.

The project started officially the 1st October 2006 and is expected to last until 30 June 2010.