Threat Agent Detection and Response (TADR) system. This system is devoted to upgrading capabilities of partner governments to detect, characterize, and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases, and particularly diseases associated with especially dangerous pathogens. BTRP also assists partner governments in developing biosecurity policies and regulations at the national level and provides training and technical assistance at the facility level. Finally, it supports cooperative research programs.
DOD anticipates reaching an annual level of BTRP expenditures of about $250 million during the next 5 years, including funding for activities in developing countries beyond the FSU. In this regard, DOD has begun considering efforts directed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although no commitments to these countries have been made.
This summary sets forth principal findings and recommendations of the study using primarily information available as of November 30, 2008. The importance of strengthening existing health and agriculture disease surveillance and response capabilities of partner governments, which overlap in many ways with systems for preventing and reducing the impact of bioterrorism incidents, is a recurring theme of this summary and the full report. Poor countries cannot afford a separate surveillance system for pathogens of bioterrorism concern and a surveillance system for other disease agents. Also, several U.S. government departments and agencies have relevant international activities and capabilities, and the importance of BTRP operating within an interagency framework is an essential aspect of much of the discussion. The full report elaborates on the findings and recommendations and presents additional observations.
In low-income countries and many areas of middle-income countries, the primary security issue for hundreds of millions of people is survival—enough food and water, adequate shelter, and tolerable levels of diseases. Unemployment and underemployment are high in many areas of the world. Sometimes impoverished populations also must cope with insurgents, terrorists, and gangsters—and even full-scale wars—that force them to move to unfamiliar surroundings. Neither the governments nor the populations in these circumstances can give priority to combating bioterrorism, which until now has not become a significant threat in their countries. However, they do know that naturally occurring diseases cause suffering and deaths and can have debilitating impacts on society (see Box S-1).
Meanwhile, many international specialists have highlighted the urgency of addressing bioterrorism on a broad scale (see Box S-2). An attack with roots in a developing country could claim victims within or outside the country. It could be a serious setback for positive aspects of the country’s political and economic agendas by diverting resources to yet another impediment to development.