Nearly 75 percent of all new, emerging, or re-emerging diseases affecting humans at the beginning of the 21st century have originated in animals. Notable reminders of how vulnerable the increasingly interconnected world is to the global impact of new emergent diseases include HIV/AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H5N1 avian influenza, and the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus. The speed with which these diseases can emerge and spread presents serious public health, economic, and development concerns. It also underscores the need for the development of comprehensive disease detection and response capacities, particularly in “hot spot” areas such as the Congo Basin of East and Central Africa and areas of Southeast Asia and Latin America where a confluence of risk factors may contribute to disease emergence. Recognizing this need, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched an Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program that seeks to aggressively pre-empt or combat diseases that could spark future pandemics.
Composed of four complementary projects – PREDICT, PREVENT, IDENTIFY, and RESPOND – with technical assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the EPT global program draws on expertise from across the animal and human health sectors to build regional, national, and local One Health capacities for early disease detection; laboratory-based disease diagnosis; rapid response and containment; and risk reduction. The One Health approach refers to the inter-relationship among environmental, animal, and human health and the integration of these sectors to promote disease prevention and control. The EPT program coordinates closely with other U.S Government agencies, international organizations, and donors.
At the country level, the EPT partners are working with governments and other key in-country and regional partners to enhance the understanding of viral distribution and key drivers of disease emergence, from deforestation and land use change to wildlife trade and livestock production demands. This information, along with other EPT investments to strengthen country-level capacities for routine infectious disease detection and outbreak response, will be used to improve surveillance, response, and risk-mitigation strategies in regions where new pandemic threats are likely to emerge. Focus countries in the Congo Basin include Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, with limited program activity in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Last updated: October 30, 2013