US helps combat seasonal and pandemic influenza
The US Government, through the Centres for Diseases Control and
Prevention (CDC), is partnering with the Health Ministry Epidemiology
Unit to enhance Sri Lanka's ability to monitor and track seasonal
influenza and prepare for, detect and respond to an influenza pandemic.
Under the program, CDC will provide over Rs. 34 million a year up to
four years to support surveillance, laboratory capacity and training. An
influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which
there is little or no immunity in the human population.
The most recent influenza pandemic, caused by the pandemic H1N1
virus, occurred over the course of the past year.
US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Patricia A. Butenis and representatives
from the CDS's Influenza Division met with Health Ministry staff and
officials to discuss the partnership recently. According to Ambassador
Butenis, "Sri Lanka has long had one of the best preparedness programs
in place to counter pandemic influenza.
The CDC support will augment and expand several initiatives at the
Health Ministry including the improvement of laboratory diagnostic
capacity; the linkage of the Medical Research Institute with the
Epidemiology Unit and regional influenza monitoring sites and the
training of regional epidemiologists, hospital infection control nursing
officers and laboratory technicians on influenza laboratory and