Global initiative launched to fight infectious diseases

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Washington:The US Thursday joined 26 other countries and key international organisations to launch a global effort aimed at combating the perils of infectious diseases, Xinhua reported.

The US-led initiative, known as the Global Health Security Agenda, is designed to help countries prevent and reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks, detect them early and respond rapidly and effectively when they do occur, whether diseases are naturally occurring, intentionally produced, or the result of a laboratory accident.

"With our globalized world, a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere," Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a telebriefing ahead of Thursday's launch in Washington. "If there is the emergence of a disease in any part of the world, it could be in any other part of the world within a day."

The CDC director said for each of the three priorities, the initiative has "measurable concrete, ambitious targets that countries will be able to meet".

On prevention, Frieden said the initiative will make sure if countries are growing dangerous organisms in laboratories they're kept securely.

"We'll also work to strengthen immunisation programmes to prevent deaths today but also to establish the infrastructure if it were needed in the future," he said.

Countries will detect at least five of the most deadly organisms in at least 80 percent of their country, and on response, countries will have emergency operation centres which can marshal a response within 120 minutes to quickly control an outbreak.

The US has four deliverables for the initiative, including a commitment to partner with at least 30 countries over the next five years to advance model systems, he said.

In 2014, the focus for this commitment for the CDC and the Department of Defence will be to partner with up to 10 countries to implement and accelerate efforts in field epidemiology, diagnostic tests and other capabilities.

In 2015, there will be a proposal in the president's budget to add $45 million to the CDC budget to further expand the initiative, said the director, who added that the White House will host an event later this year bringing together countries involved in the initiative to review progress and chart the way forward.

Countries joining the initiative are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, Britain and Vietnam.

The international organisations involved include the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), as well as the World Organisation for Animal Health.