Pandemic Influenza and Other Emerging Threats

Background

Emerging infectious diseases of pandemic potential, such as influenza viruses of animal origin and the recently identified Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), remain persistent threats to livelihoods, food security, and health across Asia and the world. The recent emergence of avian influenza A/H7N9 in China underscores the dynamic nature of such threats, and the importance of prompt, evidence-based control of emerging diseases at their source in order to mitigate negative regional and global public health impact.

In an effort to aggressively pre-empt and combat such emerging threats before they reach pandemic stage, USAID works through trans-national platforms and networks that draw upon human, animal, and environmental health expertise to strengthen both country and regional diagnostic, surveillance, and response capabilities in accordance with the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations and to provide timely and accurate reporting of animal disease to the World Organization for Animal Health.

Program Interventions

USAID program investments are building on eight years of continuous support in the campaign against highly pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1. Current efforts are strengthening infectious disease prevention, surveillance, laboratory diagnosis, and response capacities of governments throughout the region. This support is enabling human and animal health officials to work together to address these newly emerging threats, secure stronger, more resilient livestock-based livelihoods, and protect public health.

Through its global Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program, USAID is working with host governments, U.S. Government agencies and international partners to build robust systems capable of identifying and mitigating disease emergence risk, and detecting and rapidly responding to infectious disease events.

Accomplishments

  • In partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Thailand's Department of Livestock Development, the two-year Regional Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians has trained 13 veterinary epidemiologists serving across the region providing disease detection and control expertise.
  • Over 130 veterinarians from 11 countries have attended epidemiology short courses, and over 40 peer reviewed publications, abstracts, and epidemiology reports have been developed to enhance understanding of disease risk and mitigation across Asia.
  • 14 veterinary diagnostic labs and seven public health labs in Asia are providing support for enhanced capacities in safe handling, diagnosis and reporting of major endemic human and animal diseases.
  • The South East Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN), comprised of 14 faculties in 10 universities across four countries, has been created to build partnerships for strengthened multi-disciplinary training to address emerging infectious disease threats.
  • USAID is mobilizing the expertise of human and animal health sectors and supporting emergency efforts of governments across Asia and international organizations for early detection, diagnosis, and control of the avian influenza A/H7N9 virus that emerged in eastern China in March 2013, providing a unique opportunity to contain this virus at its source.

Last updated: June 17, 2014

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