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NZ helps the Philippines in fight against bird flu

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

16 March 2006 Media Statement

NZ helps the Philippines in the fight against bird flu

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced a NZ$500,000 aid grant to the Philippines to combat bird flu.

The funding will contribute to a collaborative project between NZAID, the Philippines government, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation to resist the spread of avian influenza.

Helen Clark, who is visiting the Philippines, said the project will strengthen the Philippines’ capacity to detect and diagnose an outbreak of avian influenza and other diseases.

“Avian influenza is a problem faced by many countries in the region. It poses significant threats to human health and agricultural livelihoods. Its recent rapid spread, including to Europe, is a worrying development.

“For now, the Philippines is the only poultry producing country in Southeast Asia which remains free from avian influenza. It is important for both the Philippines and the wider region that all efforts are made to prevent the spread of the disease. Early detection of an outbreak is crucial if it is to be contained.

“Fighting the spread of the disease is not simply an issue for individual nations to deal with within their own borders. It is an international problem which requires the wider international community to work together collaboratively.

“New Zealand, as an island nation free of avian influenza like the Philippines, will watch with interest any lessons which can be learned as the Philippines government strives to combat its spread,” Helen Clark said.

New Zealand’s $500,000 grant will go towards a one-year project developed by the FAO, in collaboration with the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture, to strengthen and enhance the country’s veterinary services and their ability to detect avian influenza and other diseases which may emerge in the future.

Elements of the project include a nationwide poultry population census, targeted surveillance studies, laboratory testing, maintaining an information management system, and public awareness programmes.

The project is a component of the Philippines’ National Avian Influenza Protection Programme, a comprehensive preparedness plan covering all possible outbreak scenarios. The programme is being used as a model for other countries in the region.

ENDS

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