MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending $49 million to expand surveillance response systems to help control dengue outbreaks, and prevent the spread of communicable and tropical diseases in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam.
The Second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, which is an offshoot of the first GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, will also target improvements in the capacity of health services and communities involved in disease control in border districts of the three countries.
Infectious diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian influenza, and swine flu, have had major economic impacts on productivity, trade, and tourism in Asia and will continue to pose a public health threat. In addition, dengue continues to spread, and communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and HIV/AIDS, as well as tropical illnesses such as Japanese encephalitis and schistosomiasis, pose a major disease burden.
"Preventing these diseases requires better local participation and much more intensive regional cooperation," said Vincent de Wit, lead health professional in ADB's Southeast Asia Department. He emphasized the necessity of a quick response system and that bringing communicable diseases under control requires cross-border cooperation.
The community-based communicable disease control systems funded by the project are aimed at around 1.7 million people living in 116 border districts in the three countries. About one-third of the population in the target areas belong to ethnic minority groups.
The earlier GMS Regional Communicable Diseases Control Project, initiated in 2005 in partnership with the World Health Organization, came at a timely moment, coinciding with the outbreak of avian influenza, an escalation of dengue, and an emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Lao PDR. It helped strengthen provincial surveillance in the three Mekong countries and gave provinces greater capacity and emergency funding to respond swiftly to disease outbreaks resulting in reduced deaths, medical costs and economic losses.
The new project will build on earlier successes to strengthen surveillance and response mechanisms. Financing will come from ADB's concessional Asian Development Fund with a loan of $27 million for Viet Nam and grants of $10 million for Cambodia and $12 million for Lao PDR. The three countries will provide counterpart support totaling $5 million equivalent.
The Ministry of Health in each country will be the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in June 2016. The regional coordination unit will be based in Vientiane.