U.S. to provide UN $87 million more toward fighting livestock diseases

To combat pandemic animal disease threats in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) an additional $87 million over the next four years.

The USAID and the FAO have worked in partnership on controlling animal diseases and managing related human health threats for more than 10 years. So far, the USAID has provided $320 million in funding toward the effort. 

Dennis Carroll, director of global health security and development with USAID's Bureau for Global Health, said the new funding is money well spent.

"We are pleased by what our partnership with FAO for emerging pandemic threats has so far achieved, and the important contribution FAO's work is making to the U.S. Global Health Security Agenda program to address threats posed by the natural emergence of new diseases and the intentional and/or accidental release of dangerous pathogens,”  Carroll said.

The most recent USAID funding will go toward surveillance, epidemiological studies, prevention and control activities in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. A big chunk of the funds -- approximately  $50 million -- will allow FAO to identify potential reservoirs of carriers of Ebola, and Ebola-like diseases, including any role that livestock may play in transmitting the disease. In addition, some of the money will be put toward  improving veterinary capacities, and promoting links between animal health specialists and the public health sector.

"(The contribution) shows how important transboundary diseases are for FAO and the UN system, and how much more important they will be in the future if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said. "Millions of people rely on livestock for survival, income and nutrition, and their livelihoods must be protected."

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