(iPolitics) Canada will “prioritize” biological threat reduction when it takes over the G7 presidency in 2018, a senior bureaucrat says.

Global Affairs Associate Deputy Minister Mark Gwozdecky made the announcement during a recent World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) conference on biological threat reduction.

“Infectious diseases have plagued mankind since the dawn of time. They’ve proven to be ruthless, persistent and all too adaptive and have been responsible for unparalleled death, suffering and economic loss,” Gwozdecky said. He pointed to the recent outbreak of bubonic plague in Madagascar, which has infected more than 1,300 people, as an example of the ongoing challenges facing public health officials.

Meanwhile, anti-microbial resistance (which limits the effectiveness of antibiotics) remains a “growing problem” that “hampers our ability to treat common infectious diseases” in both humans and animals, he said.

Antimicrobial resistance was a key agenda item at the recent G7 health ministers’ meeting in Milan, which wrapped up Monday. Canada has promised to develop a pan-Canadian framework on antimicrobial resistance in Canada by 2017.

Then there’s the potential national security risks biological threats pose.

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