USAID increases funding for emerging disease threats

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations announced on Monday that the United States Agency for International Development contributed more than $20 million in new funding to fight emerging disease threats.

The funds will support the partnership between the U.S. and the FAO against H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza and other potential pandemic threats. The assistance is meant to improve response and preparedness against HPAI in Southeast Asia and strengthen surveillance and laboratory capabilities in possible hotspots.

The funding will help areas such as Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Lao PDR and Cambodia.

"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 FAO and others to address the threat in animals before it spills over into humans," Juan Lubroth, the chief veterinary officer of the FAO, said. "Such support for basic prevention measures is rare, yet most sensible and cost effective."

In the past seven years, the United States has contributed approximately $213 million to the FAO's battle against HPAI and other zoonotic diseases.

"FAO has proven to be a highly effective and innovative leader in responding to the threat posed by emerging zoonotic diseases," Dennis Carroll, the director of USAID's Avian Influenza and Other Emerging Threats Unit, said. "As a prime mover in the promotion of One Health FAO continues to be instrumental in demonstrating the central importance of collaborative partnerships across the sectoral domains of environment, animal health and human health. Through the partnership between USAID and FAO we look forward to being able to continue to provide a broad range of technical, operational and commodity support to those countries most vulnerable to the threat of zoonotic diseases."