US, 26 countries launch effort to fight outbreaks (Update)

by Lauran Neergaard

The U.S. and 26 other countries began a new effort Thursday to prevent and fight outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases before they spread around the globe.

U.S. health officials called the Global Health Security Agenda a priority because too many countries lack the health infrastructure necessary to spot a new infection rapidly and sound the alarm before it has time to gain a foothold and even spread into other countries.

Germs "do not recognize or stop at national borders," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday as representatives from participating countries, the World Health Organization and other groups met to discuss plans. "A threat anywhere is indeed a threat everywhere."

Yet fewer than 20 percent of countries are adequately prepared to respond to emerging infections, she said.

Infectious diseases are a growing concern. Just in the past year, China alerted the world that a new type of bird flu was sickening people; a mysterious and deadly new respiratory virus emerged in the Middle East; and scientists detected the spread of some older diseases to new locales including the first appearance of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus in the Caribbean.

New diseases are but a plane ride away, warned Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There are too many blind spots around the world," he told reporters in preparation for Thursday's meeting.

The goal of the new effort: Over five years, the U.S. will partner with other countries to bolster local disease monitoring, develop tests for different pathogens and help regions create and strengthen systems to report and respond to public health emergencies.

Last year, the CDC began a pilot project in Uganda to improve detection of such diseases as cholera, drug-resistant tuberculosis and hemorrhagic fevers. Motorcycles raced samples from sick patients in remote parts of the country to provincial capitals, where they could be shipped overnight to a laboratory that could rapidly report the results back.

It "showed that very rapid progress was possible," Frieden said.

This year, the CDC plans to divert $40 million from its budget for similar projects in 10 other countries, which are yet to be named. In 2015, the Obama administration is seeking $45 million in new funding to further expand the work.

Countries joining Thursday's launch included Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, Britain and Vietnam.

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Saudi death toll from new virus reaches 18

May 27, 2013

(AP)—Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry says a woman has died from a new respiratory virus related to SARS, bringing the total number of deaths in the kingdom to 18.

Vietnam reports second bird flu death in 2014

Feb 06, 2014

Vietnam has recorded its second death from bird flu in 2014, a health official said Thursday, as regional concerns over a potential resurgence of the deadly virus grow.

Recommended for you

Meningitis diagnosis prompted W.Va. clinic probe

4 hours ago

A health official says an investigation that found syringes were being reused at a West Virginia pain management clinic was triggered by patient who developed bacterial meningitis.

California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

7 hours ago

A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

missninamyst
not rated yet Feb 13, 2014
Lyme disease is already spreading across the globe and yet the CDC are in denial of the impact and prevalence of this epidemic! It's perfectly wonderful to prevent future outbreaks, but shouldn't the world recognise and deal with something that has spread across a greater area already and, despite CDC statistics, has affected more 6 times the number of people than AIDS has? No wonder the front runner for the AIDS campaign has offered to help the Lyme effort