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The Governments of the United States and Singapore on November 22, 2005 signed an historic agreement renewing their joint commitment to work together to prevent and respond to pandemic influenza and other emerging diseases in Southeast Asia. The document provides for the operation of the Regional Emerging Diseases Intervention (REDI) Centre, and follows an earlier Memorandum of Understanding between the Singapore Ministry of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pledging to cooperate on a range of health issues, in particular emerging infectious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian influenza.

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong initially announced their joint commitment at the 2003 APEC Leaders’ Meeting. The REDI Centre was officially opened on May 24, 2004 at Singapore’s Biopolis hub for biomedical research.

"This is an important step in building a global network of surveillance that will help us detect disease outbreaks before they spread so we can better protect the American people and people all over the world," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "It is a timely agreement, given the urgency of our efforts to prepare for a global pandemic, and it supports President Bush's aims in bringing together nations of the world in the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza to address this worldwide threat."

The agreement establishes the REDI Centre as an international organization with a Governing Board and Scientific Advisory Group to accomplish the following:

Extend the perimeter of defence for emerging infectious diseases and health security threats.
Widen the international network for research in emerging infectious diseases.
Translate the findings of research into improved public health.

In the near future, the REDI Centre will be working with neighbouring countries to provide advice and consultation to address the avian influenza situation in Southeast Asia, specifically responding to requests for assistance from Indonesia and Vietnam, and addressing concerns about infection control in hospitals in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Some of the projects include collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory and other US and Singapore agencies to conduct a 5-day workshop on public health emergency preparedness. The programme endorsed by the APEC Health Task Force, is aimed at promoting integrated emergency preparedness for communicable disease outbreaks within and among participant economies to enhance security. In addition, the REDI Centre and MOH are working on three technical assistance training courses offered to our Indonesian neighbours on infection control, outbreak response and laboratory techniques.

“The threat of an outbreak of pandemic influenza is real. An influenza virus strain with potential to cause a pandemic of human disease could emerge with little or no warning and in almost any part of the world,” Secretary Leavitt said. “We cannot afford to ignore this threat, and we are pleased to be working with Singapore, as part of our international pandemic preparedness and response efforts.”

29 NOVEMBER 2005

For any media queries, please contact:

Embassy of The United States of America, Singapore
Valerie Fowler
Public Affairs Officer
DID: 6476-9265 / mobile: 9112-7115

The Ministry of Health, Singapore
Bey Mui Leng
Assistant Director, Media Relations
DID: 6325 1749 / 9735 8617

Nikole Lee
Media Relations Executive
DID: 6325 9174 / mobile: 9824 5058

Background information on REDI Centre

The REDI Centre officially opening in May 2004 to provide early warnings on any impending infectious disease outbreak or bioterrorist threat in the region, especially those with potential for international spread. The joint facility with the US would enable us to leverage on the US CDC’s experience and expertise in surveillance and control of communicable disease outbreaks.

The Governing Board and Scientific Advisory Group of the REDI Centre includes HHS representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Vaccine Program Office, and the Office of Global Health Affairs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with Singaporean representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Biomedical Research Council, the National University of Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority, and the Genome Institute of Singapore in Singapore.

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