Tuesday, January 29, 2013

FAO: Flashback: US increases funding to combat influenza and emerging disease threats

US increases funding to combat influenza and emerging disease threats

Continued partnership will strengthen countries' preparedness, surveillance and response

October 2012

Funding will also go to regional coordination to combat avian influenza and to support surveillance and prevention in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal and Myanmar, which are threatened by the disease's continuing persistence in neighbouring countries. 

These countries continue to have sporadic outbreaks, indicating the H5N1 virus continues to circulate in poultry and remains a threat to poultry production, human health and the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable farmers who depend on poultry raising for their basic food needs and a means of making a living.

"The US Government has been key in generating international support to combat avian influenza and to reduce the chances for a human pandemic by assisting FAO and others to address the threat in animals before it spills over into humans. Such support for basic prevention measures is rare, yet most sensible and cost effective," said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth.

Emerging pandemic threats

Thanks in large part to the USAID-FAO partnership, since avian influenza grew to proportions of a global crisis between 2004 and 2006, the scientific community has gained a deeper understanding of what drives disease emergence and thus the measures to take to prevent disease. 

Due to the speed with which animal-origin pathogens such as H5N1, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003 and the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009, caused by a virus that had combined elements of avian, swine and human origin, USAID launched its "Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) programme.

Through EPT's "Identify" component, support is funnelled to countries to strengthen the capacities of national and regional laboratory networks to diagnose and characterize different types of influenza virus threats. 

This continues to be especially important in Southeast Asia, where new virus strains continue to emerge, which can eventually develop into a direct threat for human health and perpetuate poultry losses. In addition, as viruses adapt, poultry vaccines against H5N1 can lose their effectiveness, leaving domestic poultry vulnerable to disease.

No comments: