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Highlights

The rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 showed that disease outbreaks pose a threat beyond the borders of the country where they originate. The United States has initiated a broad effort to ensure that countries can detect outbreaks that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern. Three U.S. agencies--the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (DOD)--support programs aimed at building this broader capacity to detect a variety of infectious diseases. This testimony describes (1) the obligations, goals, and activities of these programs and (2) the U.S. agencies' monitoring of the programs' progress. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed budgets and other funding documents, examined strategic plans and program monitoring and progress reports, and interviewed U.S. agency officials. GAO did not review capacity-building efforts in programs that focus on specific diseases, namely polio, tuberculosis, malaria, avian influenza, or HIV/AIDS. This testimony is based on a report (GAO-07-1186), which is being released with this testimoy. GAO did not make recommendations. The agencies whose programs we describe reviewed our report and generally concurred with our findings. We incorporated their technical comments as appropriate.

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