Senior Officials Discuss Avian Flu Priorities for Central Asia

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN - A two-day Central Asia Regional Conference on Avian Influenza Control and Human Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response, cosponsored by ADB, concludes today in Almaty.

Senior government officials from human and animal health, preparedness, and contingency planning sectors from Central Asian countries, as well as Afghanistan, People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, and Russian Federation, have been gathering with experts from development agencies to discuss global strategies to improve country and regional preparedness to reduce the impact of avian influenza and potential flu pandemic in this region.

The conference has presented an opportunity for the region’s policymakers to enhance cooperation to review pandemic preparedness planning, sector-specific guidance, and multi-sectoral coordination to strengthen the capability of animal and human health experts to respond to avian influenza.

Experts outlined the influenza epidemiological situation and recommended strategies for public health surveillance and control of avian influenza in animals as well as in humans. The conference also presented findings from a Global Data Gathering Exercise that assessed in May 2006 planning and preparedness for the disease at national, regional, and global levels.

Half of the 10 Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries have detected the virus (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russian Federation). During the most recent CAREC-meeting held in Urumqi, China, on 10-11 April, the member countries recognized the urgency to strengthen regional collaboration, as well as involve all responsible govenment agencies and international organizations to stem the social and economic impact of avian influenza outbreaks, and the potential public disruption due to an influenza pandemic.

The conference was co-sponsored by ADB, CAREC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and US Agency for International Development (USAID), OIE, the European Commission, United Nations System agencies (FAO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNSIC, WHO), and the World Bank.