Preparing for the worst
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CTA. 2006. Preparing for the worst. Spore 122. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48050
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore122.pdf
As bird flu continues to claim more human lives, the international community began taking concrete steps to head off what is now openly talked of as a possible pandemic..
As bird flu continues to claim more human lives, the international community began taking concrete steps to head off what is now openly talked of as a possible pandemic. Donor pledges of US$1.9 billion ( 1.6 billion) were made at an international conference in Beijing in January 2006, a measure of how seriously the threat is now being taken. A large share of the funds will support integrated national response strategies in developing countries, whose own systems are inadequate to deal with the scale of the emergency. According to the United Nations (UN), a massive internationally coordinated effort is needed if the pandemic is to be avoided, or its impact at least cushioned. Key strategies include upgrading veterinary systems, launching vaccination drives and encouraging change in the ways small-scale producers coexist with animals, say UN officials. Improved surveillance and detection is needed to enable farmers and veterinary services to intervene quickly and apply the internationally recommended set of actions, such as culling, biosecurity measures and vaccination. FAO has warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of the spread of the avian influenza virus to Africa. If it were to become rooted in the African countryside, the consequences for a continent already devastated by hunger and poverty could be truly catastrophic , said FAO Deputy Director-General David Harcharik. Risky farming practices such as mixing poultry species in farms or in live markets, should be changed as quickly as possible, he warned. Funding will be needed for compensation schemes for farmers to encourage their participation in control campaigns , Harcharik added. Early signs of the economic damage likely to be caused by the virus are already emerging. At the time of going to press, on March 21, six countries had reported outbreaks of avian influenza in humans caused by the H5N1 virus, but a number of others had reported cases of the virus in poultry, including Nigeria. Confirmations of the H5N1 strain in migratory birds were also causing alarm in several European countries. Worldwide, about 200 million chickens have been slaughtered, causing massive economic hardship to poultry farmers. FAO has expressed concern about pre-emptive bans on poultry imports adopted in response to avian influenza. Consumer responses to potential bird flu outbreaks are already having a disruptive impact in Europe and beyond. In Italy alone, poultry consumption is down by 50%. Some ACP states are now taking steps to design bird flu control programmes, but most need more help. The Caribbean Invasive Species Working Group (CISWG) has recommended that states under its umbrella immediately strengthen their surveillance and tackle issues of quarantine, legislation, diagnosis and emergency response systems.