FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 3, 1997
The theme for World Health Day 1997, "Emerging Infectious Diseases - Global Alert, Global Response," reflects our heightened awareness that our battle with infectious diseases is far from over and must be fought on many fronts. More than thirty newly recognized infectious diseases and syndromes have emerged in the last two decades alone, and endemic diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and diarrheal disease continue to exact a huge toll. Many people do not realize that infectious diseases remain the leading cause of death worldwide, and the third leading killer of Americans. Adding to the problem is the development of drug resistance, which has made many common infections increasingly difficult to treat.
Clearly, we remain vulnerable to infectious diseases, old and new. One needs only to talk to our older citizens to be reminded of this. My 86-year-old father, for instance, has in his lifetime experienced two global pandemics that had extraordinary impact. As a young boy he saw many relatives and acquaintances succumb to influenza during the great flu pandemic of 1918, which claimed at least 20 million lives worldwide. As a retiree, he has witnessed the emergence of the AIDS pandemic, which, like the flu pandemic of 1918, has afflicted people on every continent, often in the prime of their lives.
As the AIDS epidemic has dramatically demonstrated, emerging diseases pose an enormous threat, both in human and economic terms. No nation is immune: in today's "global village," the ease and speed of modern travel makes it possible for a pathogen to be carried to any of the world's cities within hours.
From a research perspective, emerging diseases pose problems of unparalleled complexity. The emergence of new or altered pathogens is unpredictable, occurring as a result of microbial evolution, changes in host-pathogen interaction, and a myriad of other mechanisms. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is committed to finding ways to enhance diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases. As the lead federal agency in the United States for conducting and supporting basic and clinical research on infectious diseases, NIAID has well-established research programs that address a wide range of emerging and re-emerging pathogens. In addition, as part of a national strategy for confronting these challenges, NIAID has developed a comprehensive Research Agenda for Emerging Infectious Diseases, defining priorities in three broad areas:
Our view is that fundamental research in microbiology, immunology and related disciplines provides the foundation for surveillance and response, and research training is vital for maintaining our capability to identify and control new diseases.
NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of
infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News
releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at www.niaid.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research,
and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health ®
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Last Updated April 03, 1997