The United States government has pledged an additional $320 million to assist global efforts to fight avian influenza and prepare people everywhere for a possible pandemic in the future. The U.S. made the pledge at the International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
With this contribution, the United States has given $949 million since January 2006 to support international efforts in more than 100 nations to improve pandemic preparedness and communication, disease surveillance and detection, and outbreak response and containment.
"Let me assure you that the United States continues its focus on the threat we all face," U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky told attendees at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference.
The U.S. pledge encompasses activities by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of State.
The additional U.S. pledge includes: $94 million to support capacity-building and avian pandemic flu preparedness activities in lead international organizations – including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development; $86 million to support ongoing bilateral activities in forty-eight countries; $83 million to address the evolving nature of the avian flu threat, should a global pandemic emerge; $57 million to international flu research, ongoing support for regional sites of the Global Disease Detection Network, and international cooperation.
Since 2003, hundreds of millions of birds in at least 60 countries have died of the highly pathogenic avian influenza strain sub-type H5N1, or have been killed to prevent its spread. 387 people in 15 countries have been infected with the virus and 245 have died. Worldwide efforts to control the devastation have helped more than 30 countries eliminate H5N1 from their poultry.
In 6 countries – Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam – H5N1 has become endemic.
The U.S., a founding member of the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza [IRPAPI] which has led the fight against this threat since 2006, is committed to working with the international community to control H5N1 influenza in birds and prepare for a potential human influenza pandemic in the future.