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Conference Aimed at Global Approach to Bird Flu

UN, Partners to Convene Conference Aimed at Forging Global Approach to Bird Flu

New York, Oct 31 2005 4:00PM

Several United Nations agencies and their partners will be holding a special conference next week in Switzerland to discuss a worldwide concerted approach to deal with the threat of an avian flu pandemic, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

The meeting will focus on how to control the source of bird flu among animals while simultaneously preparing for a pandemic influenza, officials said. Member States, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media are expected to attend from 7 to 9 November in Geneva, where delegates are expected produce an agenda for action to combat the deadly H5N1 flu.

Progress, gaps and redundancies will be clarified, and responsibilities assigned for assisting affected countries and those at risk, WHO said. Participants are expected to come away from the conference, entitled "The H5N1 Agenda: Towards a global strategy," with the means to identify and prioritize the financial requirements for combating the flu.

Also organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health and the World Bank, the meeting is one of the latest attempts in a series of country, regional and international meetings to clarify the H5N1 challenge in many parts of the world.

There have been more than 121 reported human H5N1 cases so far, 62 of them fatal, all in South-East Asia. So far, those who contracted the disease were apparently in contact with infected birds, and there has been no evidence so far of the disease's spread between humans. Some 140 million domestic birds have died or been culled in an effort to curb the spread. The so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920 is estimated to have killed from 20 million to 40 million people worldwide.

ENDS

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