The United States Agency for International Development has provided more than $20 million to support the ongoing U.S.-Food and Agriculture Organization partnership against H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza and a widening focus on potential emerging pandemic threats.

The partnership focuses largely on "hotspot" areas, such as Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Funding will also go to regional coordination to support surveillance and avian influenza prevention in Cambodia, Laos, Nepal and Myanmar, which are threatened by the disease's continuing persistence in neighboring countries. "The U.S. government has been key in generating international support to combat avian influenza and to reduce the chances for a human pandemic by assisting the FAO and others to address the threat in animals before it spills over into humans," said Food and Agriculture Organization Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth. "Such support for basic prevention measures is rare, yet most sensible and cost effective."

Advertisement

The partnership has resulted in a better understanding of what drives disease emergence and what measure to take to prevent disease, according to involved researchers. The U.S Agency for International Development launched an Emerging Pandemic Threats program, which helps funnel support to countries to diagnose and characterize different types of influenza virus threats. The Food and Agriculture Organization has established a Crisis Management Center for Animal Health, an emergency response unit that can mobilize and deploy teams of veterinary and other experts anywhere in the world to advise governments on emergency control measures.