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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 21, 2001

U.S. Leads APEC Efforts to Combat Infectious Disease
U.S. Leads APEC Efforts to Combat Infectious Disease

"Diseases such as AIDS destroy countless lives and undermine the success of many nations. Prosperous nations must work in partnership with developing nations to help remove the cloud of disease from our world's future."

President George W. Bush
October 20, 2001

Infectious Diseases Crisis: Infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, are a growing problem in the Asia Pacific region. It is estimated that half a million individuals died of AIDS in the region in 2000 and that this number is likely to increase 60 percent by 2005.

U.S.-led APEC Strategy: President Bush is strongly committed to the fight against infectious diseases. Under U.S. leadership, APEC has developed over the past year a strategy that identifies how it can help combat infectious diseases throughout the region. APEC Leaders endorsed this strategy on October 21, and called for its immediate implementation. Its key goals are:

-- Improving surveillance and monitoring of disease;

-- Boosting national capacity to respond to outbreaks; and

-- Training of health authorities.

Disease Specialists' "Network of Networks": To help realize these goals, the U.S. has announced its support for an APEC "network of networks" of disease specialists. The "network of networks" will be designed to:

-- Knit together existing electronic infectious disease networks into a broad working relationship; and

-- Facilitate timely transmission of crucial information across APEC economies, for example, on disease patterns, new diseases (cases, outbreaks), contaminated products (especially if associated with a disease outbreak), outbreak investigations, and laboratory methods and results.

The U.S. Commitment to Fighting HIV/AIDS Worldwide: The U.S. has been a leader in combating infectious diseases.

-- President Bush was the first to make a commitment to the global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, with a founding contribution of $200 million.

-- The U.S. is the largest bilateral donor of HIV/AIDS assistance, providing nearly $1 billion annually.

In April, President Bush expanded the mandate of the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) to better promote and coordinate domestic and international policy efforts on HIV/AIDS. ONAP is supporting a high-level task force -- co-chaired by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services -- to coordinate the Administration's activities and responses to all aspects of the domestic and international HIV/AIDS crisis.

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