New UN study urges sustained momentum to tackle human, animal influenza threats

13:26, April 15, 2010      

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While there has been substantial global progress towards pandemic preparedness in recent years, it is vital to maintain that momentum to respond effectively to existing and possible future threats, according to a new study issued on Wednesday by the United Nations and the World Bank.

"Continued global vigilance for infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics is of critical importance for health security and well-being," said the report, entitled "Animal and pandemic influenza: a framework for sustaining momentum."

The report noted that an estimated 75 percent of new human diseases originate in animals and an average of two new animal diseases with cross-over capabilities emerge every year.

The emergence of three major epidemiological events into the first decade of the new century -- SARS, H5N1 avian influenza and H1N1 pandemic influenza -- is an indication of the rate at which threats may continue to arise, it added.

"Sustaining momentum," the report said, "will require a strategic use of resources and a move away from emergency response- driven projects and special, single-focus initiatives, to long- term capacity-building."

The report will be taken up by delegates from over 80 countries when they meet at the International Ministerial Conference on Animal and Pandemic Influenza, which will be held in Hanoi, Viet Nam, on April 20 to 21.

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