WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The United States made a commitment with 26 countries and health organizations to accelerate progress in fighting infectious diseases, an official said.
"Global health security is a shared responsibility; no one country can achieve it alone," Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday at the initial meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda, an international effort to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from the threat of infectious disease.
"In the coming months, we will welcome other nations to join the United States and the 26 other countries gathered here in Washington and in Geneva, as we work to close the gaps in our ability to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats."
Over the next five years, the United States plans to work with at least 30 partner countries -- representing at least 4 billion people worldwide -- to prevent, detect and effectively respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring or caused by accidental or intentional releases of dangerous pathogens, Sebelius said.
"While we have made great progress in fighting and treating diseases, biological threats can emerge anywhere, travel quickly, and take lives," said Lisa Monaco, assistant to the U.S. president for homeland security and counter-terrorism.
"The recent outbreaks of H7N9 influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are reminders of the need to step up our efforts as a global community. The Global Health Security Agenda is about accelerating progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency jointly committed to accelerate progress on global health security by co-developing a strategy and devoting $40 million toward activities focusing on advancing the U.S. government's global health security objectives in 10 nations.