“Avian influenza threatens the entire world. It knows no borders. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all countries – rich and poor – are protected and prepared. The United Nations family will do all it can to help ensure that this happens.”
- Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General
The collective goal of the UN System is to help national authorities implement programmes with strong national ownership and adequate resources. The UN System expects to do this with a high degree of inter-agency coherence and synergy, whether working at country, regional or global levels.
The five areas of action include:
- Healthy livestock production systems and animal health services capable of responding to highly pathogenic avian influenza,
- Functioning human public health systems (that can detect, respond to and contain serious infections, including avian and pandemic influenza),
- Social mobilisation activities that include communication for behaviour change
- Crisis preparedness efforts that include contingency planning for influenza pandemics,
- Institutional arrangements for co-coordinated financial and technical support for effective national implementation of integrated influenza programmes
The UN as a whole contributes to work in these areas through support for seven objectives.
- Objective 1. Animal Health and Biosecurity
Ensuring, through a global, cohesive framework in response to avian influenza in poultry, that animal health is safeguarded, bio-security is brought up to standard, and capacity is there, when needed, for scaling up veterinary services to detect early and stamp out rapidly new avian infections through prompt movement restrictions and culling, and for sustaining vaccination of poultry and other interventions when they are indicated. Clarifying how the emergence of pandemic agents, food and agricultural practices, land use and ecosystem management are related.
- Objective 2. Sustaining livelihoods
Ensuring that the economic and poverty impact of avian influenza as well as related control measures are monitored and rectified; limiting any adverse repercussions on the Millennium Development Goals; seeking fair and equitable compensation for those whose livelihoods are endangered by avian influenza and control measures.
- Objective 3. Human Health
Strengthening public health infrastructure, including surveillance systems, to (i) reduce human exposure to the H5N1 virus; (ii) strengthen early warning systems, including early detection and rapid response to human cases of avian influenza; (iii) intensify rapid containment operations and responses for a newly emerging human influenza virus; (iv) build capacity to cope with a pandemic, including surge capacity for a pandemic; and (v) coordinate global science and research, particularly as this pertains to the availability of a pandemic vaccine and antiviral drugs. Strengthening community based treatment of acute respiratory infections, including pre-positioning of medical supplies in peripheral areas to enhance capacity to respond as well as to enhance nutrition security and access to micronutrients to minimise the impact of infection on susceptible populations.
- Objective 4. Coordination of National, Regional and International Stakeholders
Ensuring that national government ministries work together in a focused way,
bringing in civil society and private sector groups, in pursuit of sound strategies for avian influenza control and pandemic preparedness.
- Objective 5. Public Information and Communication to Support Behaviour Change
Strategic communication to provide clear and unambiguous risk and outbreak information to the general public and key groups of people with the highest potential for stemming the spread and impact of the disease. This will include communicating with the public, households and communities to involve and mobilise them to adopt appropriate behaviours to reduce risks and mitigate the impact of any outbreaks or pandemic.
- Objective 6. Continuity under Pandemic Conditions
Ensuring the continuity of essential social, economic and governance services, and effective implementation of humanitarian relief, under pandemic conditions.
- Objective 7. Humanitarian Common Services Support
Ensuring that - in the event that national capacity is overwhelmed by pandemic conditions – agreed emergency operating procedures are invoked and benefit from information technology and logistics capacity set up and made operational beforehand.
Appointed by the UN Secretary General in September 2005, the UN System Influenza Coordinator has worked to make the UN system work to its best effect to support national, regional and global efforts to address the threats posed by animal and pandemic influenza. Since then, much work as been done and progress made in the efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to animal and pandemic influenzas.
Much progress has been made in containing the H5N1 avian influenza virus, as about two-thirds of the 62 countries which reported the virus presence to date have managed to contain it. However, the virus continues to circulate and be detected in about 10-15 countries and it is still endemic in five highly-affected countries. In addition, H5N1 virus continues to evolve and spread. Therefore the risk remains unchanged. This situation, combined with decreasing donor funding and decreasing political and public interest in avian influenza, has called for adopting progressive control and targeted strategies.
2011 saw a broadening of efforts toward pandemic response and preparedness, shifting to multi-sector, multi-level, ‘Whole of Society’ approaches, and a broadening of efforts to move beyond pandemics to address diseases at the animal-human interface. During this period, the Coordinator’s work was principally focused on:
- High-Level Coordination of the UN System agencies and other partners through the continued provision of advice and support to the UN Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General, including support to the UN System Steering Committee on Avian and Pandemic Influenza; management of the UN Inter-agency Technical Working Group on Influenza; chairing of the UNDP Multi-Partner Trust Fund Management Committee dedicated to pandemic preparedness work (the Central Fund for Influenza Action); and stewarding a final update of the UN Consolidated Action Plan for Contributions of the UN System and Partners on Animal and Human Influenza.
- Promoting Multi-Sector and Whole of Society Approaches to Pandemic Preparedness, particularly through the ‘Toward a Safer World’ initiative to find the right ways of sustaining and transferring experiences and expertise in pandemic preparedness to be used in other crises. Involving governments, UN agencies, technical and specialized agencies, non-governmental and community-based organizations and private companies, a strategic advocacy program is also being developed to communicate the research findings to key decision-makers.
- Promoting and maintaining efforts for addressing Health risks at the animal human interface given that the collaboration at the animal-human-environment interface is strategically building on the lessons learned from, and achievements of, the preparedness and responses to avian and pandemic influenza.
- Strengthening International Partnerships and alliances through continued close linkages with global initiatives as well as support to the organization of international conferences (such as the November 2011 High Level Technical Meeting on Health Risks at the Human-Animal-Ecosystems Interfaces, in Mexico City).
- Supporting Communications and Information Sharing through the development and sharing of reference tools as well as the continued management of the UN System Influenza Portal (http://un-influenza.org).
It should be noted that upon the request of the UN Secretary General, throughout 2011 the Coordinator also served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition and as Coordinator of the High Level Task Force on Global Food Security.
UN Central Fund for Influenza Action
The Central Fund for Influenza Action (CFIA) is a multi-donor trust fund (MDTF) that was created in November 2006 on behalf of the UN family. It enables donors to pool their resources and rapidly provide funding for urgent unfunded and under-funded priority actions to respond to Avian Influenza and prepare for an Influenza Pandemic. The UN Consolidated Action Plan on Avian and Human Influenza (UNCAPAHI) and its seven objectives provide the strategic framework for the CFIA’s funding. The UNDP MDTF Office has been appointed the Administrative Agent of the CFIA.
The CFIA has been designed as a central financing mechanism that:
- Enhances inter-agency coordination;
- Respects the key UN agency responsibilities;
- Promotes a coherent, effective and predictable overall UN system response;
- Simplifies, through one pooled account, the capacity to support the range of UN agencies engaged in specific responses
- Complements other channels for transfer of donor resources to UN System Consolidated Action Plan for Avian and Human Influenza.
Updated information on funds received/allocated through the CFIA can be found on the MDTF/CFIA website.