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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Strategic Communications and Planning > Key Policy Fact Sheets > 2006
Fact Sheet

Washington, DC
November 29, 2006

United States International Engagement on Avian and Pandemic Influenza

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International Partnership

The U.S. Government is concerned about the ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) in birds and the potential of a human influenza pandemic that could have major global health, economic, and social consequences. For this reason, it has allocated more than $6 billion in emergency funding to address the threat of avian and pandemic influenza domestically and internationally.

The United States is working with countries and international organizations around the world to prepare for and respond to the threat of HPAI H5N1 avian influenza to animals and humans. President Bush announced the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza during the UN General Assembly in September 2005. The goals of the partnership include:

  • Elevating the avian influenza issue on national agendas;
  • Coordinating efforts among donor and affected nations;
  • Mobilizing and leveraging resources;
  • Increasing transparency in disease reporting and improving surveillance; and
  • Building local capacity to identify, contain and respond to an influenza pandemic.

The partnership first met in Washington, D.C. in October 2005 to set the agenda, define goals, and marshal resources for the international effort. The second meeting, held in Vienna, Austria in June 2006, attended by 93 countries and 20 international and regional organizations, assessed progress and challenges and outlined future plans. The Partnership will continue to meet as necessary.

The United States has pledged $392 million to support international efforts along three pillars: preparedness and communication, surveillance and detection, and response and containment. We are working to strengthen international organizations’ capacity to address the threat as well as directly supporting efforts in at least 70 nations. The following are highlights of actions taken by the U.S. Government to meet the global challenges of avian and pandemic influenza or the emergence of other highly infectious diseases.

Preparedness and Communication

The United States is supporting preparedness efforts in at least 53 countries in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and other international and in-country partners.

U.S. Government agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Interior (DOI), and Defense (DOD), as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), have deployed scientists, veterinarians, public-health experts, physicians, and emergency response teams to affected and high-risk countries to assist in the development and implementation of emergency preparedness plans and procedures for the response to avian and pandemic influenza.

The United States is collaborating particularly closely with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to develop a comprehensive North American Plan for Avian and Pandemic Influenza under the auspices of the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The U.S. also works through other regional partnerships to strengthen preparedness.

The United States is supporting communications and public awareness activities in at least 73 countries through HHS and USAID to generate awareness about avian influenza and to promote healthy behavior and practices to reduce the risk of disease transmission. These messages are geared toward both the general public and high-risk groups.

Surveillance and Detection

The United States is supporting efforts to improve animal and human disease surveillance systems, capacity for laboratory diagnosis, and early-warning networks in at least 39 countries, and is working with its partners to expand on-the-ground surveillance capacity and improve knowledge about the movement and changes in highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 on a global scale. This includes support for upgrading and improving national and regional laboratories as well as sample collection and shipping to ensure countries are able to quickly confirm the presence of the HPAI H5N1 virus. In 2004, the United States launched the Influenza Genome Sequencing Project to track genetic changes in viral strains. As of November 2006, genome sequences of 1,695 human and avian influenza isolates have been made publicly available. HHS has provided funding to WHO to strengthen its Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN) to support surveillance and response in nations worldwide and established a fund to ensure that laboratory specimens are shipped in a timely way to reference laboratories for further diagnostic work and confirmation.

USAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of HHS, with USDA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), launched the Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance (GAINS) project in 2006 to share information, increase the availability of scientific information for detection and containment, and track changes in virus isolates. USDA has trained more than 490 veterinarians and diagnosticians from 96 affected and high-risk countries in veterinary epidemiology and avian influenza diagnostic protocols to support disease surveillance and, when avian influenza cases are confirmed, control measures. USDA also has deployed specialists and provided testing materials to priority countries to further strengthen diagnostic laboratory capacities for timely detection of HPAI.

Representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico are coordinating surveillance efforts for the early detection of HPAI H5N1 in wild birds of North America through the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management.

Response and Containment

The United States is providing training for thousands globally to contain animal outbreaks and to mitigate the impact of animal outbreaks on human populations with FAO and WHO. For example, over the last year USAID trained more than 18,400 animal and human health professionals in outbreak containment in Southeast Asia. The United States is also working to enhance the capacity of affected countries to manage response efforts. Since January 2006, USAID has deployed over 200,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to 71 countries for use by surveillance workers and outbreak response teams. USAID is pre-positioning PPE kits, decontamination kits, and laboratory kits in 20 countries. Commodities have also been provided to HHS and USDA operations, the FAO, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and host country agriculture and health ministries. A stockpile of antiviral medications has been positioned in Asia for potential use in a pandemic.

In cooperation with WHO, U.S. experts have participated in investigations into human cases of highly pathogenic H5N1 in affected countries. The U.S. is also providing substantial assistance for influenza containment activities in 28 countries that have experienced animal outbreaks, in cooperation with the FAO and OIE.

The United States has provided expertise and funding for the establishment of the FAO-OIE Crisis Management Center (CMC) to facilitate its ability to mount and coordinate an international rapid response to avian influenza animal outbreaks worldwide, integrated with human surveillance efforts in conjunction with WHO. USDA has deployed specialists through the CMC on rapid-response missions to both Sudan and the Ivory Coast. DOD is planning military-to-military training and exercises, and is assisting other countries in developing military preparedness and response plans.

United State Pledges

The U.S. contribution of $334 million was the largest cash pledge among bilateral donors at the Beijing donors’ conference in January 2006, where the global community pledged $1.9 billion to combat avian and pandemic influenza worldwide. At the June 2006 meeting of the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza in Vienna, the U.S. increased its pledge by $28 million. As of September 2006, the U.S. total contribution was further increased to $392 million. This contribution is being used for overseas programs to:

  • Facilitate the development of national plans;
  • Support development of diagnostics and laboratory capacity;
  • Stockpile personal protective equipment and emergency health commodities;
  • Conduct international communications campaigns and public outreach activities; and
  • Train responders to animal and human outbreaks.

The $392 million pledged by the United States is going to a variety of activities to prevent and respond to avian and pandemic influenza threats, including the following:

  • Nearly $138 million is allocated to bilateral assistance activities
  • Almost $64.5 million is dedicated to regional programs including regional disease detection sites
  • Close to $44.5 million is devoted to support for international organizations
  • $66.6 million is to be used for stockpiles of non-pharmaceutical supplies
  • More than $40 million is allocated for international technical and humanitarian assistance and international coordination
  • Over $9 million is designated for wild bird surveillance and international research (including vaccines and modeling of influenza outbreaks)
  • $8.6 million is dedicated to global communications and outreach
  • $5.7 million is for global contingencies, including emergency response

The U.S. Government had disbursed 86% of its total commitments as of November 2006.

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