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World Health Day - April 7, 1997

"Emerging Infectious Diseases: Reduce the Risk" is the theme in the United States for World Health Day, April 7, 1997. The day will focus on challenges associ-ated with emerging, reemerging, and drug-resistant infections. Infectious diseases remain the world's leading cause of death, accounting for approximately half of the 50 million deaths annually ( 1 ). In the United States, of the 10 leading causes of death, infectious diseases account for two (human immunodeficiency virus and pneumonia and influenza) ( 2 ).

The increasing interaction between humans and changing environments world-wide through access to rapid travel have increased the global risk for emerging diseases. In June 1996, the President directed federal agencies to work together and with other countries to develop a global surveillance and response system that can quickly and effectively address outbreaks ( 3 ).

The role of education is critical in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Improved understanding of risks presented by emerging infectious diseases, why these infections occur, and how to control and prevent infections will enable indi-viduals, community organizations, health professionals, and others to reduce the risks associated with these diseases.

The American Association for World Health coordinates World Health Day activi-ties in the United States in collaboration with the association's World Health Day Advisory Committee. Information about special events and resource materials about World Health Day 1997 are available from the American Association for World Health, telephone (202) 466-5883. Additional information about emerging and other infectious diseases is available from CDC by accessing the World-Wide Web at


  1. World Health Organization. Progress towards health for all: third monitoring report. World Health Stat Q 1995;48:190.

  2. Rosenberg HM, Ventura SJ, Maurer JD, et al. Births and deaths: United States, 1995. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics 1996:31. (Monthly vital statistics report; vol 4, no. 3, suppl 2).

  3. Gore A. Emerging infections threaten national and global security. ASM News 1996; 62:448-9.

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