Nations commit to accelerating progress against infectious disease

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday that the U.S. joined more than 26 countries and organizations to accelerate progress toward eradicating infectious disease and commit to the goals of the Global Health Security Agenda.

"Global health security is a shared responsibility; no one country can achieve it alone," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "In the coming months, we will welcome other nations to join the United States and the 26 other countries gathered here in Washington and in Geneva, as we work to close the gaps in our ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats."

During the next five years, the U.S. will work with at least 30 countries to prevent, detect and respond to naturally occurring or intentional infectious disease threats.

"While we have made great progress in fighting and treating diseases, biological threats can emerge anywhere, travel quickly, and take lives," Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said. "The recent outbreaks of H7N9 influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are reminders of the need to step up our efforts as a global community. The Global Health Security Agenda is about accelerating progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats."

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency committed to develop a strategy for global health security, and set aside $40 million to advance the government's GHS goals in 10 nations for fiscal year 2014.

The president's FY 2015 budget includes an additional $45 million in the CDC to prevent avoidable catastrophes, detect threats and mobilize effective responses. The increase in funding would allow the CDC to begin integration new procedures in 10 countries.

The CDC also would be able to move forward with training field epidemiologists, develop new diagnostic tests, detect new pathogens, build public health emergency management capacity and support outbreak responses.

"The United States and the world can and must do more to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks as early and as effectively as possible," CDC Director Tom Frieden said. "CDC conducted two global health security demonstration projects last year in partnership with Vietnam and Uganda to strengthen laboratory systems, develop strong public health emergency operations centers, and create real-time data sharing in health emergencies. CDC is committed to replicate the successes in these two projects in ten additional countries this year."