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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686

Bull World Health Organ vol.81 n.7 Genebra Jan. 2003 



WHO announces public–private initiative on disease surveillance



WHO is setting up a new public–private initiative to fight SARS and build capacity for surveillance, epidemiology and public health facilities in China and the surrounding region. The announcement was made during the World Health Assembly on 22 May.

"Despite the rapid and effective response from partners around the world, SARS exposes fundamental weaknesses in global health infrastructure," said Dr Jong-Wook Lee, Director-General Elect of WHO. "In particular, the epidemic highlights the need for local and national surveillance and response mechanisms. This new fund and other innovative initiatives like it will help prepare the world to respond to future emerging diseases."

The international business community has pledged support to mobilize the resources needed initially to carry out this work through a special fund. The World Economic Forum's Global Health Initiative and WHO will work together to assemble a coalition of business leaders and committed individuals who will mobilize the resources for the fund. The initial target is US$ 100 million by September from the business community, especially companies with operations or markets in Asia.

WHO is also working to raise an additional US$ 100 million from bilateral donors to support expanded surveillance and response across the globe. These funds are seen as just the first step in an ongoing global commitment to provide against the threat of infectious diseases.