Co-ordination vital to curb human pandemic
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-07 05:52
As the spread of bird flu picks up pace around the world, China yesterday
called for closer international co-operation to help prevent a human pandemic.
"The international community should further improve the information-sharing
mechanism for the disease," a Ministry of Agriculture official said.
Apart from China, only a few developing countries have submitted bird-flu
virus samples to international organizations for technical assistance, said the
official who did not want to be identified.
He made the remarks as more than 30 experts gathered in Geneva yesterday for
a three-day meeting called to sharpen the global response to any human outbreak
of H5N1 bird flu.
The Ministry of Health confirmed on Sunday the country's ninth human fatality
a 32-year-old man in South China's Guangdong Province - from the infection.
H5N1 has spread to at least 15 new countries in the past month. The virus has
infected 174 people since 2003, killing 94 of them, according to news reports.
The ministry official said H7, H5 and H2 types of avian influenza have been
reported in North America, Europe and some Asian countries in recent years.
Some of the strains are very virulent, and others are of great value for
developing either human vaccines or prevention technology.
"Therefore we hope that with the co-ordination of relevant world
organizations, countries concerned will submit bird-flu virus strains in a
timely fashion," he said.
In addition to co-operating with the United Nations Food and Agricultural
Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in bird flu
prevention, the Ministry of Agriculture has offered technical and material as
well as financial aid to countries including Viet Nam, the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea, Mongolia and Indonesia, he said.
"China remains committed to participating in, and promoting, international
co-operation for bird flu control," he said.
Meanwhile, national legislators and policy advisers have asked the government
to help revive the poultry industry which has been badly affected by bird flu,
and popularize prevention methods among people.
Since millions of birds have been slaughtered in China to try to stop the
spread of the virus, said Yang Xixiu, a national legislator, the government
should help set up farm produce assurance organizations in the countryside to
relieve the woes of farmers ravaged by epidemics.
Yang made the remarks while attending the annual meeting of the National
People's Congress, China's top legislature, which is in session in Beijing.
Zhong Nanshan, a national policy adviser and director of the Guangzhou
Institute of Respiratory Diseases, warned on Sunday that the threat of bird flu
spreading to humans is looming closer.
It is imperative to disseminate bird flu knowledge to every resident, and
such publicity should be made "compulsory,?Zhong was quoted by the China News
Service as saying.
China stamped out 32 outbreaks of fatal bird flu in 2005, and another three
at the onset of this year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
(China Daily 03/07/2006 page1)