USAID strengthens fight against avian influenza globally

The U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a one- year, $19 million project to provide critical commodities to fight avian influenza.

The commodities provided under the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT are designed to contain outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza and to limit its potential to spread globally.

H5N1 avian influenza has to date been detected in 55 countries, resulting in the death or destruction of over 220 million birds and the deaths of 170 people, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and UN health officials. Its potential to mutate into a form easily transmitted among humans has sparked concerns about a potential human influenza pandemic. The USAID | DELIVER PROJECT aims to adequately equip and train animal health professionals to contain H5N1 avian influenza in animals, in an effort to halt its development into a pandemic strain.

In the past year, USAID has shipped personal protective equipment, decontamination kits, and laboratory specimen collection kits to more than 70 countries for disease surveillance and outbreak investigations and response. The USAID | DELIVER PROJECT will enhance these efforts by establishing a global distribution mechanism for the commodities. The project will also assist in forecasting and procurement planning to developing countries, which are particularly vulnerable because of resource and infrastructure shortages. In addition, the project, which is being managed by John Snow, Inc., will help with pre-positioning commodities in national and regional warehouses for rapid deployment in case of outbreaks.

"The USAID | DELIVER PROJECT will fill a critical need in global avian influenza response," said Dr. Kent Hill, Assistant Administrator for USAID's Bureau for Global Health. "Use of commodities is absolutely essential in outbreak investigation and response; they help keep responders protected from exposure and also inhibit the opportunity for the disease to be spread through cross-contamination," he said.

The project, which delivers commodities to country-level rapid response teams, is part of the U.S. Government's international avian influenza response, as outlined in the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/nspi_implementation.pdf ).

USAID has committed a total of $191.5 million in avian influenza efforts worldwide. Along with its partners, USAID supports efforts in 55 countries for improved planning, preparedness, communications, early-warning surveillance and disease detection, outbreak response, and commodity availability and use.

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