Cablegate: Who:58th World Health Assembly: U.S.-Hosted

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 80654

1. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Michael
O. Leavitt hosted a Ministerial meeting on avian influenza at
the 58th World Health Assembly on May 16, 2005. The meeting
brought together the Ministers of Health and representatives
from Australia, Cambodia, Canada, the People's Republic of
China, East Timor, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of
Korea, Laos People's Democratic Republic, Mexico, Malaysia,
Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Great Britain,
the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the European Commission,
the World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters, the WHO
Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) and the WHO Regional
Office for Southeast Asia (SEARO). Participants offered
their comments and views on the current priorities and/or
challenges related to the threat of highly pathogenic H5N1
avian influenza. General focal points for discussion
included improving surveillance; outbreak response; and
inter-Ministerial and international coordination,
collaboration, and communication.

2. The more formal Ministerial comments revolved around the
chronology of the H5N1 outbreak in Asia, how countries dealt
with their outbreaks, the imperative of strong political
leadership and the need for continuing support for H5N1
control and prevention activities by both agriculture and
public health authorities.

3. Many delegations described the different approaches their
countries have taken to manage outbreaks, including improved
information-sharing between various stakeholders; research
and development towards better vaccines; increased training,
education, and awareness among providers; and enhanced
epidemiological surveillance. China stated that its approach
is on the prevention of human cases through poultry flock
biosecurity and vaccination (risk reduction). Under this
system, national-level professionals provide guidance and
oversight to assure adherence to quality-control principles.
The implementing framework is a national surveillance system
that includes local and provincial centers that conduct
surveillance and response activities at those administrative
levels. China emphasized the need for information-sharing,
but cautioned that authorities must focus on accuracy to
limit misinformation and rumors. They also emphasized the
need to strengthen coordination with the WHO, the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the
World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the need for
increased communication and scientific exchanges between
agriculture and public health authorities and interest groups
in the Asian region.

4. Thailand emphasized that avian influenza control was a
national priority, and distributed their published national
strategy and plan for avian influenza as a pandemic influenza
threat. The Thais said they had been slow to realize the
implications and scope of the poultry outbreak until the
occurrence of the first human case. They, like the Chinese,
are now focusing on controlling the outbreak in birds, but
through culling and not vaccination. They seek a coordinated
regional and international response to avian influenza,
including a willingness to serve as a regional training
center. The Thais also support the idea of an international
stockpile of antivirals, and a greater investment in H5N1
vaccine research and development.

5. South Korea emphasized the central role of transparent
reporting and immediate notification in controlling the
December 2003 outbreak in their country. Viet Nam expressed
its concerns that sensitive information countries provide to
the WHO Secretariat and other international agencies during
outbreaks remain confidential. Laos emphasized the need for
enhanced capacity-building with respect to disease

6. In U.S. closing remarks, Secretary Leavitt summarized the
key messages received at the meeting as follows:

a) Greater transparency in information about the outbreaks
and quicker sharing of human and animals samples and

b) Equitable access to safe and effective vaccines when they
become available;

c) A global network of collaboration that uses both the WHO
laboratory network and the OIE animal diagnostic lab network;

d) Strengthened multilateral as well as bilateral
collaboration and coordination on H5N1 avian influenza
surveillance and control activities, both human and

e) Better access to Biosafety Level-three (BSL-3) capability
in Southeast Asia;

f) Expanded global vaccine production capabilities;

g) Research on both human and animal vaccine efficacy and

h) Better communications with and training for health care
providers and animal workers on personal protection and H5N1
case detection; and

i) Joint need to learn from the lessons of Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome and the mistaken distribution of H2N2

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