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USAID Cooperates in Pandemic Preparedness Initiative
Date:4/28/2009

WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is convening a group of civil society organizations today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in a regional exercise that will kick off the implementation stage of its Humanitarian Pandemic Preparedness initiative. The three-day exercise seeks to advance global capacity to thwart a humanitarian disaster in the event of a pandemic.

As recently emphasized by outbreaks of swine flu and H5N1 avian influenza, the likelihood that an emerging infectious disease will spark a global pandemic remains a significant threat. In a pandemic, communities will need access to food, water, and care for both pandemic and non-pandemic illnesses. Through the Humanitarian Pandemic Preparedness initiative, USAID is working with a group of partners including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, U.N. agencies, host-country governments, and non-governmental organizations to develop comprehensive national plans to help ensure countries can mount an effective humanitarian response to such needs in the event of a pandemic.

With this week's exercise, these plans will be put into action for the first time. An emphasis will be placed on regional coordination and communication within the context of national plans in East Africa. In addition to helping identify gaps and what kinds of challenges may arise in a pandemic, the exercise will also allow participants to learn about cutting-edge resources designed for pandemic response in the region.

Dr. Ronald Waldman, coordinator of the USAID Humanitarian Pandemic Preparedness initiative, stressed the importance of pandemic readiness. "We don't know which disease will cause a pandemic, but considering historical evidence and epidemiological data, we know there is a likelihood that one will occur," he said. "Testing and strengthening preparedness plans through exercises like this n
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SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development
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