U.S. Joins Health and Agriculture Ministers at International Meeting in Hanoi to Address Ongoing Pandemic Preparedness
U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at Health and Human Services Dr. Bruce Gellin, are leading the U.S. delegation to the International Ministerial Conference on Animal and Pandemic Influenza (IMCAPI) in Hanoi, Vietnam, April 19-21. Assistant Secretary Jones serves as U.S. Special Representative on Avian and Pandemic Influenza.
The three-day conference is being hosted by the Government of Vietnam, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the European Commission. Representatives from foreign governments and international organizations around the world are attending the meeting to explore how best to combat pandemic influenza and bring greater attention to the interconnection between animal and human health, including the challenges that animal and pandemic influenza pose to the global community.
Today, the U.S. Delegation noted the U.S. Government’s investment of over $1.5 billion to combat avian and pandemic influenza around the world. This figure represents an additional $627 million since the previous 2008 IMCAPI conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The funding a demonstrates the continued importance that President Obama and the U.S. Congress place on efforts to respond to the 2009-H1N1 virus, prevent and contain highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza, and combat other viruses with pandemic potential. The increased U.S. Government funding for avian and pandemic influenza will be allocated to multilateral organizations, such as the World Health Organization, as well as to bilateral and regional programs.
This ministerial builds upon the first meeting of the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza in Washington in 2005, and subsequent global conferences in Beijing, Vienna, Bamako, New Delhi, and Sharm el-Sheikh. In accordance with President Obama’s decision last September that the United States would donate ten percent of its H1N1 vaccine supply to developing countries, the US led an effort with other donor governments to supply H1N1 vaccine to developing countries though a program administered by the World Health Organization. The U.S. has provided supplies and in-kind assistance in the form of personal protective equipment, laboratory and decontamination kits, technical and humanitarian assistance, international coordination, highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza wild bird surveillance, vaccine research, and global communications and outreach about avian and pandemic influenza risks.
In addition to those listed above, the U.S. delegation includes several senior officials from the Department of Agriculture, Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Homeland Security.