FAO estimates Asia-Pacific bird flu losses at $10 million

New Delhi, July 30 | Updated: Jul 31 2006, 06:07am hrs
The Asia-Pacific region has suffered losses of around $10 million due to the bird flu pandemic, Food and Agriculture Organisation's regional representative for Asia Pacific He Changchui said on Friday.

He said over 200 million birds have been culled over two-and-a-half years due to the flu.

"All countries need to put in place vigilant surveillance and a timely action plan to prepare against further outbreaks," Changchui told reporters on the sidelines of regional conference on avian influenza control and pandemic preparedness in Asia.

He said all countries in the region need to develop the capacity to rapidly identify the bird flu outbreak, contain it and institute measures to prevent recurrence. "Ensuring this response capacity is a costly but necessary investment," he said.

Changchui said, to contain any further outbreaks and ensure preparedness, the FAO will need at least $300 million over the next three years.

"We already have about $62 million and another $30 million have been committed to us. However, this is still only one-third of what we require and we have been asking donor countries to step up their donations," he said.

Changchui said FAO has initiated various programmes for control, research and prevention of the pandemic.

Considerable efforts have also been made to prepare for a global response in case a human pandemic virus emerges. Bird flu has so far been reported in over 50 counties in Asia, Europe and Africa.

Meanwhile, India will apply for bird flu free certification on August 8, a government aide said Friday. The certification will ease poultry exports from India, which have been hit by bird flu, he said.

"We will approach the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for the certification on August 8," he said. Animal husbandry secretary PMA Hakeen said India can easily seek the certification as no Indian case of bird flu has been reported in the last three months, containment measures have been satisfactory, and all cleaning and sanitising operations have been completed. "According to OIE protocol, is a country reports no case of bird flu in three months, it can claim freedom from the disease. India will also apply for the certification as poultry exports depend on it," he told reporters after a regional conference on avain influenza control and pandemic preparedness in Asia.

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