The President today established a national
policy to address the threat of emerging infectious diseases through improved
domestic and international surveillance, prevention, and response measures.
Emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS present one of the most significant health and security challenges facing the global community. Deaths from infectious disease have risen sharply over the past decade in the United States and globally. In the United States alone, the death rate from infectious diseases, excluding HIV/AIDS, rose by 22 percent between 1980 and 1992. Contributing factors, such as climate change, ecosystem disturbance, increased movement of people and goods, and the deterioration of public health infrastructures, show no sign of abatement. Addressing this challenge requires a global strategy as most cities in the United States are within a 36 hour commercial flight of any area of the world -- less time than the incubation period of many infectious diseases. Furthermore, the United States is vulnerable to a release of biological agents by rogue nations or terrorists, which could result in the spread of infectious diseases.
The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has determined that the national and international system of infectious disease surveillance, prevention, and response is inadequate to protect the health of U.S. citizens. The NSTC reports, "Infectious Disease -- A Global Health Threat" (September 1995), "Meeting the Challenge -- A Research Agenda for Health, Safety, and Food" (February 1996), and "Proceedings of the Conference on Human Health and Global Climate Change" (May 1996), make a number of recommendations to improve our surveillance, prevention, and response capabilities which are reflected in this policy.
2. Establish a global infectious disease surveillance and response system, based on regional hubs and linked by modern communications.
3. Strengthen research activities to improve diagnostics, treatment, and prevention, and to improve the understanding of the biology of infectious disease agents.
4. Ensure the availability of the drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests needed to combat infectious diseases and infectious disease emergencies through public and private sector cooperation.
5. Expand missions and establish the authority of relevant United States Government agencies to contribute to a worldwide infectious disease surveillance, prevention, and response network.
6. Promote public awareness of emerging infectious diseases through cooperation with nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.
- Strengthen research, training, and technology development for establishing new and more effective interventions to combat emerging infectious diseases.
- The Federal government, in cooperation
with State and local governments, international organizations, the private
sector, and public health, medical and veterinary communities, will establish
a national and international electronic network for surveillance and response
regarding emerging infectious diseases.
- Federal agencies will coordinate with
the private sector, as appropriate, including representatives of the pharmaceutical
industry and the academic, medical, and public health communities.
- NIH will work with appropriate medical
college and public health school associations, urging them to advise their
member institutions to expand training in emerging infectious diseases
and antimicrobial drug resistance, in student curricula.
- The National Security Council (NSC)
will ensure that any recommendations support counterterrorism measures.
- The United States will urge the WHO
to develop regional inventories of resources for combating emerging infectious
diseases and will explore joint steps to strengthen surveillance and response
capabilities of WHO and other international organizations, as appropriate.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will continue to address the root causes of emerging diseases through its ongoing portfolio of assistance to developing countries.
- The mission of the Department of Defense (DoD) will be expanded to include support of global surveillance, training, research, and response to emerging infectious disease threats. DoD will strengthen its global disease reduction efforts through: centralized coordination; improved preventive health programs and epidemiological capabilities; and enhanced involvement with military treatment facilities and United States and overseas laboratories.
- DoD will ensure the availability of diagnostic capabilities at its three domestic and six overseas laboratories. DoD will make available its overseas laboratory facilities, as appropriate, to serve as focal points for the training of foreign technicians and epidemiologists.
Coordination by a Standing Task Force
A standing Task Force of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is established to provide strategic planning and further coordination on issues of emerging infectious diseases. The Task Force will establish action groups as necessary to pursue specific topics. In particular, the Task Force will act immediately to realize the objectives and implementing actions described above.
The Task Force will be co-chaired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Task Force will seek the views of the private sector and health service providers in implementing this initiative.
The Task Force will report to the President
through the NSTC and will provide annual reports on the progress realized,
including recommendations for further action.