Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Avian Flu

Read the full article by Canice Nolan in Bridges, an online magazine published by the Austrian Embassy in Washington's Office of Science & Technology.

"At the national level, governments around the world are drafting preparedness plans for use at national down to local levels. Currently in Europe, 49 out of 52 governments have completed plans, and the US published its plan in early November. These should be based on international guidelines (of the WHO, FAO, and OIE) where possible and tailored for national needs. It is the European Commission’s view that there should be country-ownership of these plans if they are to work.

"At the international level, the (European) commission fully supports the work of the three most involved international organizations – the WHO, the FAO, and the OIE. Indeed, these organizations have been working on avian flu for decades and on a possible pandemic for many years. Much has already been done to provide advice and support to affected regions. Much more could be done, but it is often the case that the technical experts are limited by resources.

"To this end we can only commend the organization by the US of a meeting of the International Partnership for (or is it against?) Avian and Pandemic Influenza last September. This effectively raised the political profile of this topic around the world. It was followed by International Ministerial meetings in Canada, Europe, and Asia.

"Early in November, it was the subject of a major meeting in Geneva, convened by the WHO, FAO, OIE, and the World Bank. This meeting brought many sectors together at a high level to discuss global and national response strategies against avian flu and action plans as well as country needs assessments and financing gaps. It will be followed by a ministerial donors pledging conference in Beijing in mid-January 2006, co-sponsored by the Government of China, the European Commission, and the World Bank. The international donors’ community will be invited to pledge support to national action plans of least developed countries affected or at risk of Avian Influenza. The principle of aid effectiveness requiring donors’ harmonization and alignment (Paris Declaration – OECD-DAC) was recognized in Geneva. The Beijing conference will further examine the possibility of establishing common joint financing mechanisms."

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