PREVENT project joins forces with AusAID to fight emerging pandemic disease threats in Southeast Asia

USAID extends PREVENT until 2015

September 21, 2012

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — Australia and the United States have agreed to jointly support a program designed to reduce the risk of animal-to-human and human-to-human spread of emerging pandemic diseases of animal origin, such as avian influenza, or "bird flu."

The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the PREVENT project, which has been facilitated by FHI 360 since its inception in 2009. The project aims to reduce the risk of emerging pandemic disease threat using behavior and communication interventions.

Under the memorandum, AusAID will provide additional funding to the PREVENT project, which was also recently extended by USAID to 2015. The AusAID support will boost the ability of people and organizations at the grassroots level to reduce the risk of transmission of dangerous pathogens from animals to humans by taking regulatory, managerial, social and behavioral actions. AusAID-funded work will focus on countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion, including Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

To date, PREVENT has worked in and near identified disease hot spots — including sites in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Gabon, Laos, Thailand, Uganda and Vietnam. The project conducts market studies, along with other qualitative and quantitative research, to identify population segments at greatest risk for exposure to and transmission of emerging infectious diseases. PREVENT pinpoints the specific activities and practices that put these populations at risk and then works with local groups to identify feasible, less-risky alternatives to current practices. To promote success, the project team educates and encourages people to adopt these alternatives, either permanently or during periods of particularly high risk.

The Memorandum of Cooperation with AusAID reflects USAID's reform effort, USAID FORWARD, which includes a greater emphasis on collaboration and partnership with bilateral donors and multilateral and international organizations — increasing synergies and avoiding duplication.

The PREVENT project is part of USAID's larger, overarching program on Pandemic Influenza and Other Emerging Threats (PIOET) that includes three other projects: PREDICT (strengthening detection/surveillance), IDENTIFY (boosting diagnostic/laboratory capacities) and RESPOND (strengthening local response capabilities). PIOET was established in October 2009 to build on the successes and lessons learned from USAID's previous work on avian and pandemic influenzas.

In addition to PREVENT, FHI 360 will soon be completing a companion effort, the Mekong Infectious Disease–Behavior Change Communication (MID–BCC) project, also funded by USAID, that helped prevent and control avian influenza, malaria, dengue and other infectious diseases in the Greater Mekong Subregion.