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Cooperation Pledged At International Bird Flu Conference

by 5m Editor
29 January 2004, at 12:00am

BANGKOK - At an international conference held Wednesday at Bangkok, world major chicken importers and agriculture and health officials vowed to exchange information and share technology to address the bird flu epidemic crisis.

Cooperation Pledged At International Bird Flu Conference - BANGKOK - At an international conference held Wednesday at Bangkok, world major chicken importers and agriculture and health officials vowed to exchange information and share technology to address the bird flu epidemic crisis.

"The disease in affected countries do not only severely affect the poultry industry but also is a potential threat to human health, unless decisive actions are taken now," said a statement adopted by officials attending a ministerial meeting on the issue, which was held on Wednesday afternoon.

The officials were from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam and the European Commission.

Recognizing the potential serious impact of the avian influenza on global public health, the above governments decided to "promote rapid, transparent, and accurate exchange of scientific information to provide early warning of potential outbreak."

Except Malaysia, the United States and the European Union, other members of the group have reported outbreak of the fowl disease, which have claimed 10 lives in Vietnam and Thailand.

The meeting's ultimate objective was to restore confidence among all parties concerned and the meeting was mostly focusing on the issue of human health, said Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai at a joint conference held at the end of the meeting.

Millions of chickens have been culled through farms in these countries since Vietnam first reported the outbreak of the epidemic early this year.

In Thailand alone, which confirmed the outbreak on Jan. 23, almost 8 million chickens have been culled to curb the spread of the fowl disease since November of last years and 134 spots including the capital of Bangkok have been confirmed as risk areas affected by the disease.

Vowing to put the situation under well control in three-month time, the Thai government said the poultry disease so far had caused some 3-billion-baht (about 77-million-dollar) loss to the kingdom, which was among the world top five chicken exporters.

All parties attending the meeting also considered creating a regional veterinary surveillance network and to link it with existing human health surveillance mechanisms, according to the statement.

The existing human health surveillance mechanisms included the APEC Task Force on Health, ASEAN Ministers' Health Special Meetingin Kuala Lumpur and ASEAN and China's meeting on SARS in Bangkok.

Trying to reduce the hazards of epizootic outbreak on human health, the governments also pledged to strengthen cooperation with regional and international organizations on joint research and development initiatives.

Experts from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health also took part in the three-hour-long meeting.

The statement called for assistance and exchange of expertise to assist affected countries to enhance their epidemiological and laboratory capacity for prompt detection, monitoring, surveillance and controlling of the disease.

The statement also called for investigations for options for designing more bio-security developments of the poultry sector for both small scale and commercial production.

"The fact that this meeting was convened in three working days underscores that we all recognize the need to coordinate our efforts to put up an effective response to the spread of avian influenza," said Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat.

Source: eFeedLink - 29th January 2004

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