Global plan to tackle bird flu threat

October 23rd, 2008 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 23 (IANS) Efforts are on to have a global plan to tackle emerging infectious diseases like bird flu at an international ministerial conference on avian and pandemic influenza in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.The plan called the ‘One World, One Health (OW-OH)’ initiative, aims for an unprecedented integration of animal, human and ecosystem health issues to fight the threat of the avian flu virus H5N1.

A new report by Ian Scoones and Paul Forster of the ESRC STEPS Centre at the UK’s Institute of Development Studies (IDS) enunciated 10 key recommendations for OW-OH, based on lessons learned from the massive $2 billion global response to avian flu over the past five years, which has claimed 245 lives.

“The ‘One World, One Health’ initiative is a radical departure from the conventional sectoral approaches to health. It is essential, but presents many challenges. We have identified 10 challenges for the way ahead and urge ministers to rethink rather than repackage their measures,” said Scoones.

Over the last decade, the bird flu virus, H5N1, has spread across most of Asia and Europe and parts of Africa. In some countries - including Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Egypt - the disease has become endemic.

Somewhere, some time, a new emerging infectious disease will have major impacts, given changing disease ecologies and patterns of urbanisation and climate change, according to an IDS press release.

In many countries pandemic contingency and preparedness plans have been devised. Yet coordination at country level has been found wanting; rivalries between professions and organisations persist; and funding and capacities for an effective and equitable global responses to a pandemic remain weak.

The themes addressed in this report are being explored as part of a project on avian influenza policy responses in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. They are central to the ESRC Centre’s research programme on ecology, politics, policy and pathways to sustainability.

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