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New Int'l Fund Fights Regional Health Crises

A China-ASEAN Fund for Public Health will be launched to finance cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address regional public health crises, a statement issued Tuesday at a special meeting in Beijing said. 

Participants at the China-ASEAN Special Meeting on High Pathogenic Avian Influenza Control agreed that regional cooperation is a key weapon in combating disease that transcends all boundaries.


The statement lists a series of measures that China and ASEAN members will take to fight bird flu.


It was suggested that meetings among agricultural or health ministers should be held regularly and a public health cooperation mechanism between China and ASEAN be set up.


It also includes a call for strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation with international organizations such as the UN Organization of Food and Agriculture (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health.


Expert teams will be sent to each other's countries and joint technical training courses can be organized.


Meeting with some delegates, Premier Wen Jiabao said China is ready to work with ASEAN and other international organizations on public health, quality supervision and quarantine.


Suvit Khunkitti, deputy prime minister of Thailand and the ASEAN representative, expressed gratitude for the support and aid China has given to ASEAN countries in their fight against bird flu.


Henk Bekedam, WHO representative, said all participants have been encouraged by the political commitment of China on preventing and treating bird flu.


Joseph Domenech, an official from the UNFAO, and Bernard Vallat, director-general of the World Organization for Animal Health, expressed willingness to fight bird flu with China.


Robert Webster, a bird flu expert from the WHO Collaborating Laboratory on Influenza, said on Monday a human vaccine for the H5N1 bird flu virus is expected to be available in six months' time.


(China Daily March 3, 2004)

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