LA Times: U.S. Launches Global Effort to Control Disease
Friday, March 6, 1998
By MARLENE CIMONS, Times Staff Writer
U.S. Launches Global Effort to Control Disease
WASHINGTON--The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Thursday a new initiative aimed at controlling the global emergence of lethal infectious diseases, saying it will develop programs in targeted countries to fight the escalating health threats posed by bacterial resistance, tuberculosis and malaria.
The agency also said it will work with other health agencies worldwide to better monitor and respond to new outbreaks of diseases before they get out of hand.
"This is as important for American citizens" as it is for citizens abroad because "we are dealing with these problems at their origin, rather than waiting for them to get here," said Dr. Nils Daulaire, a senior health advisor to USAID.
Congress, recognizing the potential danger from infectious diseases overseas, awarded the agency an additional $50 million for fiscal 1998 specifically for control of infectious diseases--the first time in four years that, "instead of cutting our budget, Congress has added to it," Daulaire said.
In response, the agency is pursuing a 10-year effort that it hopes will reduce by at least 10% the deaths caused by infectious diseases, excluding those caused by acquired immune deficiency syndrome, by 2007.
The $50 million is in addition to the agency's public health budget of $850 million, which is spent on maternal and child health, family planning and the control of AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus that causes it.
USAID has estimated that more than 17 million people worldwide will die from infectious diseases in 1998. This health problem has gotten worse in recent years due to numerous factors, including rapid population growth, overcrowding, poor sanitation, poverty, loss of trained health personnel and decreasing resources available to public health services in the poorest of countries, according to USAID.
The new strategy will focus on:
* Developing programs that will discourage the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, which only strengthens the ability of resistant strains of bacteria to survive.
* Developing a global tuberculosis control plan, which will include establishing up to five major sites to serve as models for TB surveillance and control and enhancing programs to identify TB strains that are resistant to multiple drugs before the strains become widespread.
* Developing programs in Africa--where the most troublesome malaria problems exist--to prevent and control spread of the disease. Rather than control the mosquitoes that transmit the parasite, efforts will focus on preventing infection and quickly treating those who become infected, an approach health officials say will help reduce further transmission.