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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 356-96
June 12, 1996

DEFENSE TO PLAY MAJOR ROLE IN U.S. EFFORT TO DEVELOP GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASES Vice President Al Gore announced during remarks to theNational Council for International Health today that aPresidential Decision Directive on Emerging Infectious Diseaseshad been signed. In the directive, the Clinton Administrationmade a commitment to tackle the growing problem of infectiousdiseases in the United States and worldwide, and to help developa global surveillance and response syst

Speaking after the council meeting on behalf of the Department of Defense, one of the major cosponsors of this effort, Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, the assistant secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), applauded the vice president's announcement. For the past year, Joseph said, the Department of Defense has been developing a surveillance and response system to handle infectious diseases which pose a threat to military personnel and national security. The Presidential Decision Directive gives our effort increased visibility and support, and provides direction and encouragement to the other key U.S. government partners -- the Departments of State, and Health and Human Services, and the Agency for International Development.

According to Joseph, DoD's own effort to support a global surveillance and response system for infectious diseases is being built around the joint efforts of the three military Services and the Joint Staff. The foundation of this joint effort is going to be a new coordination and communications hub which will support and link the considerable efforts to keep track of emerging diseases that is already underway in the Department of Defense. Around the world today, the Department has preventive health staff working in a range of deployments, medical facilities serving the troops and their families, and U.S. and overseas laboratories working on infectious diseases. Once operational, the Department's surveillance and response system will serve as a major pillar supporting both the U.S. effort, and a budding international global surveillance and response system.

The Presidential Decision Directive is the result of a collaborative effort of many agencies including the White House, the Departments of Defense, State and Health and Human Services and the Agency for International Development. The recommendations included in the directive support the establishment of a global surveillance and response system for infectious diseases that focuses both public, U.S. and other nations, and private sector resources, around this increasingly critical need.

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