HANOI, Vietnam - Pacific Rim leaders will endorse a plan to fight bird
flu and cooperate in improving regional pandemic preparedness, according to a
draft statement to be released this weekend.
Leaders from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, gathering
in Hanoi for their annual summit, will support a plan calling for enhanced
surveillance, improved infrastructure and expanded technical collaboration in
The plan follows a meeting in May at which health and agriculture ministers
from the region agreed on ways to head off a potential pandemic, including
calling for the restructuring of some backyard farming practices into larger,
more controlled operations.
In the draft statement, the APEC leaders urge a "deepened engagement of the
private sector to help ensure continuity of business, trade and essential
services in the event of a pandemic outbreak."
The virulent H5N1 bird flu virus has killed at least 153 people worldwide
since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003. Experts fear the
virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, potentially
sparking a pandemic.
So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds.
The APEC leaders also will call for better cooperation on AIDS, including
pushing for rights for those living with the AIDS virus and universal access to
prevention, care and treatment by 2010, the draft statement