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ASEAN, Chinese Senior Health Officials Meet to Discuss SARS
Health officials of ASEAN members and their counterparts from China met in Kuala Lumpur Friday to discuss preventive and control measures relating to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

The meeting, initiated by Malaysia, is a prelude to the ASEAN Health Ministerial Meeting on SARS to be held tomorrow at the Palace of Golden Horses in Seri Kembangan, its national news agency Bernama reported.

Director-General of Health Dr. Mohamad Taha Arif opened the meeting, attended by senior officials from the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) except Vietnam. ASEAN groups Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

Officials from China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), South Korea and Japan have also been invited to the meeting with China sending their senior health officials.

Malaysian Health Minister Chua Jui Meng earlier said that the meeting would discuss the respective country's reports in the areas of epidemiology, public health measures, information on cases and contacts as well as on how to handle foreign workers.

The meeting will also discuss the need for health declaration cards for East Asian nations and the need to share laboratories for identification of the SARS virus, he said.

Participants of the meeting will also address matters related to the SARS hospitalization and universal protection system since there has been a large number of healthcare workers down because of SARS, according to the minister.

The senior officials will be given the opportunity to present their report on the SARS situation in their country before they prepare the draft of the joint statement to be forwarded to the health ministerial meeting.

(Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2003)

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