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 Home > News & Policies > October 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 21, 2003

Fact Sheet
Health Security Initiative

Presidential Action

Today, President Bush and the Other APEC Leaders Endorsed the U.S.-driven health security initiative.

Lessons of SARS: The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003 demonstrated the importance of prevention, surveillance and detection, and coordinated responses to outbreaks of disease, whether they occur naturally, like SARS, or are inflicted intentionally, like the 2001 anthrax incidents in the United States.

APEC Response: APEC Leaders took action to improve the region's preparedness to counter such health threats. In launching the Health Security Initiative today, APEC Leaders committed to protect the region's people and economies by improving the public health infrastructure and working together to combat disease and bioterrorism. Specifically, the Leaders agreed to:

  • Improve Disease Monitoring: APEC economies will focus on improving disease monitoring and response mechanisms, as well as expanding regional coordination through the APEC Emerging Infections Network and collaboration with multilateral organizations, including the World Health Organization;
  • Increase Security of Biological Pathogens: APEC economies will implement measures to ensure that biological pathogens are stored and transferred safely and securely;
  • Strengthen Controls on Dual-use Biological Materials and Equipment: APEC Leaders responded to the critical need for strict import and export controls on dual-use biological materials and equipment by committing to enact and strengthen the necessary legislation, as well as criminalize offensive weapons activity.
  • Establish strict codes of ethical and operational conduct for bio-scientists.

REDI Center: Leaders welcomed the establishment of the joint U.S.-Singapore Regional Emerging Disease Intervention (REDI) Center. The REDI Center will focus on preventing and responding to disease, both naturally-occurring and man-made. The REDI Center will:

  • Combat emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism by providing a base for training health professionals;
  • Bring together researchers from around the region to cooperate on emerging infectious diseases;
  • Translate the findings of health research into improved public health by facilitating the development of new vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests designed to prevent, defeat and detect new health threats.