WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department's top science adviser
said Friday the war on terrorism must not deflect attention
from the need to combat infectious diseases, some of which, he
said, could "engulf entire continents" if left unchecked.
"The United States and the international community must not and
will not let terrorism or microbes destroy the immense promise
that this century holds for humankind," said Dr. Norman
Neurieter, who advises Secretary of State Colin Powell on
science and technology issues.
Neurieter addressed a State Department conference on global
infectious disease and U.S. foreign policy. His address was to
have been delivered by Powell, but the secretary was unable to
appear because of a scheduling conflict. Neurieter said a swift
response is needed to combat infectious disease because
countries are becoming increasingly interdependent.
There should be no delays "regardless of whether the infection
is deliberately spread by domestic or foreign terrorists or
whether it is naturally occurring, as with HIV/AIDS,
tuberculosis or malaria," Neurieter said.
"Already these killers have taken the lives of tens of
millions," he said. "They can devastate communities. They can
cripple economies. They can decimate countries. They can
destabilize regions and, left unchecked, perhaps engulf entire
"HIV/AIDS kills over 8,000 people" every day, Neurieter said.
"Twenty-two million have died from it since 1980 and 38 million
are infected and will die within seven years."
Dr. John Lamontagne of the National Institutes of Health said
48 percent of all deaths of people under 45 and two-thirds of
all deaths of children under 5 are the result of infectious
Lamontagne said 1.5 million to 2.7 million deaths around the
world each year are attributable to malaria. Every 20 to 30
seconds a child dies of malaria, he said.
He displayed a chart showing the problem is particularly acute
in Africa, northern South America, South Asia and Southeast
"We have a tremendous problem ahead with malaria," Lamontagne