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Contact: Ellen Cole, 206.285.3500, ecole@path.org

Seattle, November 17, 2006—PATH is pleased to announce new work to help mitigate potential human outbreaks of avian influenza in Ukraine. PATH will work closely with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to strengthen its national strategy for tracking and containing this disease. This effort is supported by a US$1 million cooperative agreement from the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Ukraine’s geographic location places it at extreme risk for pandemic avian influenza. The country reported its first case in poultry in December 2005, and since then, the virus has continued to spread. The Ministry of Health has prioritized the need to strengthen the systems that can provide early warning of human cases.

PATH will assist the Ukraine Ministry of Health in building laboratory and diagnostic capacity to confirm avian influenza in humans. The organization will also help develop a strategy for vaccinating high-risk groups, establish national surveillance systems, and build effective communication and control plans for the nation and for specific regions where the risk is greatest. "Seattle is known around the world for its compassion and ground-breaking leadership on global health issues, and PATH deservedly shares in this recognition," said Representative Jim McDermott who represents Washington's 7th Congressional District, which includes Seattle, in the US House of Representatives. McDermott added:  "As a medical doctor, I know the grave danger that Avian Flu poses to people everywhere, which makes PATH's work in Ukraine to strengthen health systems a critical front line defense in the fight against Avian Flu."

PATH is also working in Georgia on avian influenza. The organization is strengthening surveillance systems for human cases of avian influenza and developing communication and procurement plans for the country.

Since the mid-1990s, PATH has worked to alleviate pressing health issues in Eastern Europe. The organization is strengthening tuberculosis control, HIV prevention and care, and women’s health systems in Ukraine and working with local governments to reform health information systems for vaccine-preventable diseases in other Eastern European countries.