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FEATURE STORY

Project Launched to Strengthen China’s Capacity for Infectious Disease Prevention

August 10, 2012

BEIJING, August 10, 2012 -- Yesterday the China Emerging Infectious Disease Preparedness and Control Project was officially launched in Beijing by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Ministry of Health (MoH) of China and the World Bank.  The project, supported by a grant of US$2.57 million from the Avian and Human Influenza Facility (AHIF), aims to assist China in strengthening its capacity to prevent and respond to emerging infectious diseases (EID).

China is facing an increased risk from EIDs because of its sheer size of animal and human populations, its proximity to one of the potential epicenters of EIDs, its intensive animal farming practices, increasing trade with its neighboring countries as well as improved but still sub-optimal veterinary and human health services. Such a risk has been exemplified by the rapid increase of brucellosis and other EID outbreaks in the recent years.

"China as the world’s most populous developing country is also one of the countries affected by various infectious diseases. Most of the EIDs found in the last few decades have emerged in mainland China. Some of the infectious diseases that were previously put under control have re-emerged,” said Zhang Guoxin, Director of the Emergency Office of the MoH at the launch.

"We are facing a major challenge in IED prevention and control. While we increase our own investments and continue to build up our own capacities, we are keen to get attention and support from international organizations. Your support, both financial and technical, will help us enhance our capacities and level of IED prevention and control,” he said.

"We believe that China needs and can play a greater role in the global understanding of and fight against the EIDs,” said Philip O’Keefe, World Bank’s Human Development Sector Coordinator. “Clearly, China is heading to the right direction. The EID Project will serve as a platform, and be one of the important and initial steps for further advancing the theories and practices for EID prevention and control in China.”

The project will help China to:

  • establish a set of generic capacity including but not limited to risk assessment, surveillance, epidemiological capacity, infection prevention and control, risk communication, laboratory investigation, monitoring and evaluation for emerging infectious diseases, in particular, brucellosis, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and human influenza; and
  • improve collaboration between China and its neighboring countries for emerging and re-emerging diseases prevention and control.

The Avian and Human Influenza Facility is a multidonor, grant-making mechanism  supported by the European Commission and nine other donors. The project is the third phase of a AHIF-funded project in China launched in 2007. The total funding from the AHIF for the three phases amounts to US$8. 72 million. The Bank has been working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health to implement "One Health Approach" for newly emerging infectious diseases, and contributed to the revision of the National Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan and Avian Influenza Prevention and Control policies.

"We have implemented ‘One Health’ approach and followed the principle of ‘timeliness, openness and transparency’ to keep the related international organizations and countries informed of new outbreaks of IEDs in animals,” said Zhang Hong, Deputy Director-General of the Veterinary Department of MoA.

"We have hosted and participated in a number of international workshops on animal disease prevention and control, supported and collaborated with the World Organization for Animal Health and other international organizations, and contributed to global animal health development while improving animal disease prevention and control in China,” said he.

The launch ceremony was attended by senior officials from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), MoA, MoH and the State Audit Office, more than 80 participants from Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang -- the two project provinces, as well as representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Also attending the launch was a delegation from Mongolia comprising officials from the Ministry of Food and Light Industry, National Emergency Management Agency, Ministry of Health and Dornod Province, as the project will serve as a pilot for cross-border collaboration in disease prevention and control.