Preparations for international cooperation in response to disease disasters at the regional or continental levels are poorly coordinated and cooperation is limited, although intergovernmental and international organisations have been advocating for years that emergency responses to infectious disease outbreaks should be planned for and prepared at the national level. National governments are responsible for contingency planning to protect the public; however, this responsibility needs to be broadened to encompass regional and international approaches. Little public domain information is available on international coordinated responses to the deliberate introduction of biological pathogens.
Terrorist events in the early 21st Century have increased awareness of the risks, but solid commitment and internationally resourced initiatives are still lacking. The current avian influenza disaster has largely been addressed by the three global agencies: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organization (WHO), using the underlying precepts that shape the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs). The GF-TADs offers a substantial base to improve regional epidemiological and environmental information, diagnostic networking, trend analysis and intervention against the important epidemic animal diseases. International prevention, preparedness and response require multidisciplinary teams working in an environment of intergovernmental cooperation that encompasses numerous ministries and agencies. This paper focuses on known international aspects of collaboration on emergency preparedness and addresses the FAO/OIE initiative to strengthen veterinary and public health systems involved in controlling and preventing serious health threats.