The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched its Emerging Pandemic Threats 2 (EPT-2) Programme in support for Vietnam’s efforts to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats.

The progamme is in line with the key objectives of the two Governments’ partnership on the Global Health Security Agenda and Vietnam’s implementation of the International Health Regulations.

“Infectious diseases are still among the foremost dangers to human health and the global economy,” USAID Vietnam Mission Director Joakim Parker said in a statement issued by the US Embassy on March 10.

“The EPT-2 programme supports Vietnam’s efforts to protect us all against infectious disease threats and contribute to global heath security.”

The programme builds on cooperation and partnership over the past decade among USAID including successes on avian influenza, to prevent or combat newly emerging diseases at their source, including those of animal origin. It will help more than 20 focus countries in Africa and Asia detect viruses with pandemic potential, improve laboratory capacity to support surveillance, strengthen national and local capacities to respond in an appropriate and timely manner, and provide education on ways to prevent exposure to these dangerous pathogens.

Vietnam is located in a relatively high-risk region for emerging infectious diseases. The new influenza A/H7N9 virus recently detected in humans and animals in neighboring China is an example of potentially serious regional threats to public health and economic development. Such emerging health threats underscore the call by USAID and other key stakeholders in Vietnam for greater coordination and collaboration among sectors and agencies to address diseases that impact on health, food security and safety, livelihoods, trade, and economic development.

Since 2005, USAID has provided more than 60 million USD to support Vietnam's programmes to combat avian influenza and other pandemic threats.-VNA