UN agency sets up regional Asian networks to better fight deadly bird

“National borders cannot stop the disease from spreading,” warned Joseph Domenech, Chief of the FAO Animal Health Service. “Only regional cooperation is likely to achieve success.” The Southeast Asia network, covering Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, East Timor and Viet Nam, was launched at a three-day regional meeting of veterinary officers and laboratory experts that ended in Bangkok today. Two similar networks for South and East Asia will follow soon.FAO is providing $1.2 million for the creation of these subregional platforms, which will offer training and information exchange for national laboratories and surveillance teams from 23 Asian countries, bringing together affected and non-affected countries to better coordinate the control and prevention of bird flu. “Our aim is to improve the quality of diagnosis and epidemiological data,” Mr. Domenech said. “This will help countries to judge the effectiveness of their control campaigns, identify weaknesses or share success stories. Therefore, the region will be in a much better position to respond to the avian influenza threat.” Earlier this month China, Thailand and Viet Nam reported new outbreaks in chickens of the H5N1 bird flu virus that at the beginning of the year killed at least 22 people and led to the deaths or culling of 100 million birds in nine countries across Southern and Eastern Asia. The network for South Asia will include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In East Asia, China, Japan, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and the Republic of Korea will participate.

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