Bush Seeks $2.3 Billion for Flu Protection Programs in 2007

By Kathryn McConnell
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - President Bush has requested $2.3 billion in the fiscal year starting October 1 (fiscal year 2007) for protecting against a potential influenza pandemic.

The president's fiscal 2007 request for influenza preparedness programs administered by the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture was released February 6 in the annual budget request to Congress.

The request would build on the $3.8 billion for pandemic flu preparedness approved by Congress for spending in fiscal year 2006.  (See related article.)

The budget proposal is the first step in a long, complex legislative process.  Before the federal government can spend any money, the House of Representatives and Senate must pass final spending bills and the president must sign them.

Of the fiscal 2007 request, $188 million would go the health department's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for improving disease surveillance efforts, both in the United States and in other countries.

The importance of the U.S. and international commitment to boosting influenza control programs in lesser-developed nations became more evident the same day the Bush administration’s budget was unveiled. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed February 6 the confirmation by Indonesian health authorities of another human death from avian influenza.  One of seven countries to detect human cases of the dangerous H5N1 virus, Indonesia has identified an additional four human cases of bird flu, with two ending in death.  According to the WHO, the newly confirmed human cases of the H5N1 virus bring the total in Indonesia to 23, of which 16 cases were fatal.


The president’s request for fiscal year 2007 seeks $35 million for the National Institutes of Health to conduct clinical trials of influenza vaccines and  $50 million the Food and Drug Administration to improve the agencies' reviews of new vaccines.

It also would fund HHS international activities related to the deployment of rapid disease detection tests for - and developing and implementing communications about - a pandemic.

The budget would allocate $350 million to help local health departments in the United States fund prevention programs, according to news reports.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would receive $322 million for improvements in programs for detecting, responding to and recovering from incidences of diseases, pests and poisons introduced into the U.S. food supply accidentally, intentionally or by an act of terrorism.

This would include $82 million to pay for avian influenza preparation and prevention efforts conducted in cooperation with state authorities, which have jurisdiction over local wildlife and agriculture matters. This appropriation would allow better surveillance of wild birds, thought to be carriers of avian influenza, and live bird markets. The administration’s budget proposals also would support programs to prevent wild bird trafficking and stockpile flu vaccines to protect poultry from disease.

The highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza called H5N1 has been found across Asia and in parts of Europe, causing the deaths by disease or culling of approximately 200 million birds. The virus also has infected humans, and the cross-species infection has provoked warnings that pandemic influenza might sweep the world if the virus becomes contagious among humans.

In the more than two years since the disease first appeared in humans, 165 human cases have been confirmed as H5N1 infection by international laboratories collaborating in a global network.  The WHO reports that 88 of those human cases have ended in death.

A summary of the HHS budget (PDF, 26 pages) is available on the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) Web site. A summary of the USDA budget (PDF, 14 pages) also is available on the GPO site.

For additional information on avian influenza and efforts to combat it, see Bird Flu.