tion of the criteria of urgency, priority, and amenability to immediate action. Given that infectious diseases are a significant threat to the health of the world’s population, several of the committee’s recommendations could be justified solely on the basis of humanitarian need; all are justified as being in the best interest of the United States to protect the health of its own citizens.
Infectious diseases are a global threat and therefore require a global response. Nations not only must be concerned about the endemic diseases that plague their own citizens, but also must expand their concerns to include the global burden of disease that ultimately encompasses the gamut of potential threats—even if these threats are not currently found within their borders. While the true burden of infectious diseases in many areas of the world is unknown, the greatest burden occurs within developing countries, where an estimated one in every two persons dies from such a disease. The United States’ capacity to respond to microbial threats must therefore include a significant investment in the capacity of developing countries to monitor and address microbial threats as they arise.
The United States should seek to enhance the global capacity for response to infectious disease threats, focusing in particular on threats in the developing world. Efforts to improve the global capacity to address microbial threats should be coordinated with key international agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and based in the appropriate U.S. federal agencies (e.g., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], the Department of Defense [DOD], the National Institutes of Health [NIH], the Agency for International Development [USAID], the Department of Agriculture [USDA]), with active communication and coordination among these agencies and in collaboration with private organizations and foundations. Investments should take the form of financial and technical assistance, operational research, enhanced surveillance, and efforts to share both knowledge and best public health practices across national boundaries.
Global surveillance, especially for newly recognized infectious diseases, is crucial to responding to and containing microbial threats before isolated outbreaks develop into regional or worldwide pandemics.
The United States should take a leadership role in promoting the implementation of a comprehensive system of surveillance for global infec-