For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As concerns over the spread of swine flu grow, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today that it is providing an additional $5 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in emergency support for efforts to detect and contain the disease in Mexico.
"Since 2005, USAID has committed $543 million to support pandemic prevention and preparedness across the globe," said Alonzo Fulgham, Acting USAID Administrator. "This additional $5 million is specifically aimed at helping to control the transmission of swine flu in Mexico, through advanced disease surveillance and control measures."
USAID is also working closely with U.N. and civil society partners to adapt and disseminate important public health messages for communities and healthcare facilities about swine flu and how to limit risks for disease transmission.
"Containing the spread of certain animal diseases, like swine flu and avian influenza, is critical to limiting the threat of a pandemic," Fulgham continued. "As demonstrated in recent days," he added, "such diseases can spread quickly, so informing the public about how to reduce risks is critical."
Swine flu is of particular concern because it is both a novel virus and spreads efficiently among humans, meeting two of three criteria for a pandemic.
On April 25, WHO declared the ongoing spread of swine flu a public health emergency of international concern. On April 27, WHO raised the level of influenza pandemic alert to Phase 4, indicating an increased likelihood of a pandemic. The increased alert level does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is inevitable. WHO sent a team of responders, including two experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to work with authorities in Mexico. The team will further investigate and characterize the virulence and transmission dynamics of the disease.
USAID is responding to the international outbreak in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To help track transmission of H1N1 in the swine population, USAID is also supporting FAO efforts to conduct animal surveillance in Mexico and other parts of Central America. USAID has also offered to provide 900,000 sets of personal protective equipment from its avian and pandemic influenza stockpile to support ongoing response efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services, WHO, and PAHO. The use of this protective equipment helps to protect first responders from contracting or spreading disease from suspected outbreak sites.
USAID has committed $543 million to support pandemic its Avian and Pandemic Influenza prevention and preparedness activities across the globe since 2005. In addition, the USAID is positioned to provide humanitarian aid to help countries requiring additional support in the event of a pandemic.
For further information on USAID's avian and pandemic influenza program, visit http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/home/News/news_items/avian_influenza.html.
For information on USAID's disaster assistance program, please see http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/humanitarian_assistance/disaster_assistance/.
Last updated: April 16, 2014