India strengthening surveillance to prevent Bird Flu outbreak

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New Delhi, Dec 4 (UNI) India is strengthening surveillance network and trying to develop simple and affordable bio-security measures in poultry holdings to prevent the outbreak of avian influenza in the country, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said today.

Inaugurating the three-day International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza here, Dr Ramadoss pointed out the resource crunch experienced by developing countries to deal with the pandemic which has caused colosal economic cost to 61 affected countries.

According to the World Bank, for a resonable level of preparedness for avian influenza, developing countries need to spend at least 2.2 billion dollars over next two to three years while international organisations would require at least 325 million dollars to support these activities.

However, the current gap for mobilising resources for country programmes was 960 million dollars or more than 40 per cent of the identified needs, he pointed out. Though from Beijing and Bamako pledges of 649 million dollars were available to fill the gap, these resources were in the form of loans while grants would be more appropriate form of financing for this global public good, he observed.

Emphasising the need for minimising the gap, he urged the international community to look for low cost option to deal with any future pandemic. According to the Health Minister, empowerment of community has emerged as the most powerful tool in preparing for the pandemic and this must be focused on.

He also stressed the need for raising the level of bio-security in poultry holdings by commitment and financial investments from the Governemnt, private sector and commercial firms. Moreover, simple and affordable bio-security measures need to be developed to provide institutional support at the community level to mobilise prevention and control action.

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