MSH Chosen by the Asian Development Bank for Its Avian Flu Initiative in Afghanistan

CAMBRIDGE, MA (AUGUST 1, 2007)—The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has awarded a one-year contract to Management Sciences for Health (MSH) to help detect and manage anticipated outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Afghanistan and to help establish pandemic preparedness plans and increase the capacity to deal with surges in demands on the health system.

The ADB Avian Influenza Initiative: Afghanistan Emergency Preparedness and Response Project will focus on helping provincial health offices and referral hospital staff to prepare for and respond to anticipated HPAI outbreaks. The goal is to rapidly identify and manage suspected human cases, their contacts, and any other potentially exposed persons. There will also be a component for pandemic preparedness in the event that large numbers of human HPAI or pandemic influenza cases occur. This component will involve epidemiologic and surveillance preparedness, rapid response within 48 hours of detection of any HPAI cases in poultry or humans, referral hospital preparedness, and clinical training of health care providers in infection control and case management of suspected human cases.

Afghanistan has suffered two major HPAI outbreaks in poultry in two years, and significant potential for another national HPAI animal outbreak with some animal-to-human transmission remains. HPAI threatens the viability of the global poultry industry, the economic status of small farmers, and the overall health of communities worldwide.

In March 2007, MSH partnered with DAI on Stamping out Pandemic and Avian Influenza (STOP AI), the US Agency for International Development's (USAID's) three-year global response to avian and pandemic influenza. The focus has been on preventing H5N1—a highly pathogenic virus that causes avian influenza—from evolving into a form transmissible to humans, while mitigating the economic hardships associated with the disease and preparing for the next pandemic. MSH is also the recipient of a five-year USAID grant for Technical Services Support (TechServe) to Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health. This effort includes the control of all infectious diseases and not just HPAI.