Emerging Pandemic Threats

A woman buying a rabbit in the market

About 75 percent of new human diseases are caused by microbes that originate in animals. These include HIV and AIDS, influenzas (including pandemic H1N1, H5N1 and H7N9), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Ebola, Marburg, and Nipah. Several of these have spread extensively in human populations to cause a global epidemic (also known as a pandemic).

Population growth and expanded interactions between people, animals, and the environment over the coming decades are expected to increase the spillover of new disease threats from animals to people.

Emerging Pandemic Threats

To minimize the impact of pandemic threats on human health and economic and social stability, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT-2) program in 2014.

Like its predecessors, EPT-2 has three overarching objectives:

  • the prevention of new zoonotic disease emergence,
  • the early detection of new threats when they do emerge,
  • and their timely and effective control.

EPT-2 will build on the lessons and knowledge from EPT-1, and bring heightened focus to those “places and practices” that enable not just “spill-over” of new microbial threats, but also potentiate their “amplification and spread.” It will also invest in “one health” policies across public health, agriculture, environment, economic growth, and education, required for the prevention and control of such threats.

At the core of EPT-2 are seven new areas of strategic focus:

  1. Developing longitudinal data sets for understanding the biological drivers of disease emergence
  2. Understanding the human behaviors and practices that underlie the risk of “spill-over, amplification and spread” of new viral threats
  3. Promoting policies and practices that reduce the risk of disease emergence 
  4. Supporting national One Health platforms to improve sharing of information and taking action across sectors
  5. Investing in the One Health workforce to improve skills related to preparedness, surveillance, laboratories, response to outbreaks, communications, and risk reduction
  6. Strengthening national preparedness to respond to events of public health significance
  7. Strengthening global networks for real-time bio-surveillance

At the heart of EPT-2’s approach has been the recognition that to be effective USAID cannot be successful on its own and must partner with a range of other U.S. Government agencies and multilateral, bilateral, national, non-governmental, and private sector players.

EPT-2 ends September 2019.

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Last updated: August 10, 2016

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