Bureau of Public Affairs
November 28, 2007
U.S. Government Support to Combat Avian and Pandemic Influenza -- Middle East/North Africa/Arabian PeninsulaPDF version
The Middle East's first outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 avian influenza virus in birds occurred in January 2006 in northern Iraq. The disease has since appeared in Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and West Bank/Gaza. As of November 2007, 38 cases of the disease in humans, fifteen of them fatal, had been reported in Egypt, and three in Iraq, with two fatalities. Millions of birds have died or have been culled, causing social and economic disruption for business, farmers, and consumers in the region.
The United States combats HPAI H5N1 in Middle Eastern nations by working with governments and regional entities, and with international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Through the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, the United States works to elevate the issue on national agendas -- and to coordinate efforts between affected nations in the Middle East and donors around the world.
To assist the Middle East in responding to avian influenza outbreaks and preparing for a possible human pandemic, the United States is supporting Middle Eastern efforts through bilateral and regional programs. The United States provides assistance to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, West Bank/Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Yemen.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) -- including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NI H) -- and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) focus on strengthening preparedness and response planning, building Middle Eastern capacity in human and animal health, strengthening laboratory diagnostics, increasing public awareness and information, and enhancing disease surveillance and detection. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) provides medical technical assistance and has purchased personal protective equipment (PPE) for combatant command use in military-to-military and international humanitarian assistance globally; and USAID has deployed non-pharmaceutical commodities, including PPE, laboratory investigation kits, and decontamination kits throughout the region for use in outbreak surveillance and response efforts.
As of June 2007, the United States allocated $3.95 million (including $1 million for Libya) to bilateral and regional efforts. In that year:
Nearly 53 percent of the $13.5 million science budget of the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit laboratory (NAMR U-3) in Cairo was for seasonal and avian and pandemic influenza related activities. Approximately $350,000 has been expended for Egypt directly. Funding for NAMR U-3 is provided by HHS/CDC and DOD/GEIS. NAMR U-3 also serves as a World Health Organization (WHO) reference laboratory.
HHS/CDC committed $2.5 million to the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO ) of the WHO for regional influenza efforts. In addition, HHS/CDC has assigned a physician epidemiologist to the EMRO office in Cairo who works on immunizations and infectious diseases in the EMRO region.
HHS/CDC committed $4.3 million in avian and pandemic influenza funding towards the development of a Global Disease Detection Center in Cairo, in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and NAMRU-3. A major focus of this center is improving detection and response capacity for pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious disease threats.
PREPAREDNESS AND COMMUNICATION
U.S. assistance efforts to the Middle East for preparedness and communication include:
SURVEILLANCE AND DETECTION
To assist the Middle East in building capacity for surveillance and detection, the United States is:
RESPONSE AND CONTAINMENT
To help Middle Eastern nations respond to and contain avian and pandemic influenza outbreaks, the United States is taking the following actions:
The U.S. Government's official website on avian and pandemic influenza is www.pandemicflu.gov.