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High-level Symposium on SARS Held in Beijing
ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK (10+3) High-level Symposium on SARS, organized by the Ministry of Health of China and Chinese Medical Association, opened Tuesday morning in Beijing. This symposium will exchange information and experience on SARS prevention and treatment, particularly on issues like epidemiological investigation, clinical treatment, diagnosis and medical research so as to seek more international cooperation.

Besides participants from ASEAN countries, China, Japan and Republic of Korea (ROK), the World Health Organization and health officials from Mongolia, the United States, Britain, France and Canada were also invited to attend the two day long symposium. Cameroon and Russian embassies in China also sent delegates to the meeting. Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi attended the opening ceremony, and Vice Health Minister Gao Qiang delivered the opening address.

Gao said that the SARS epidemic is a disaster facing the whole of mankind and as the largest victim, China and its people have suffered greatly, "We have paid a high price for the epidemic, but we have also learned a lot," said Gao, adding that China is willing to share its experience with other countries.

Gao said he is convinced that with this symposium, the cooperation in information sharing will be more effective, the research on SARS diagnosis, vaccines and therapeutic medicines will be further accelerated, and the regional cooperating mechanism in dealing with public health emergencies will also be boosted. He called for all countries in Asia, and the world as a whole to join hands in conquering SARS.

The World Health Organization's representative in China, Henk Bekedam, also addressed the opening ceremony. He said although SARS prevention is a very arduous job, this first health crisis in the 21st century can be conquered based on international cooperation. In face of the SARS epidemic, WHO has enhanced its global network to carry out research on the prevention of SARS. He said that WHO's target is not only to conquer SARS but also to bring the globe into a new era of health cooperation. "We are here today to prove that Asian countries will unite together to conquer SARS." He also thanked the organizers for their timely organization of this symposium.

Following the opening ceremony a plenary address was presided over by Professor Zhong Nanshan, a leading Chinese medical scientist and president of the Guangdong Research Institute for Respiratory Disease.

Li Liming, director of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was first to give a lecture entitled Overview on Epidemic of SARS and the Lash up Response to It in the People's Republic China. Chew Suok Kai, deputy director of Medical Services, Epidemiology & Disease Control Division of the Ministry of Health of Singapore presented a lecture on Singapore's measures to prevent and contain SARS. Max Hardiman from the Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response, Global Alert Response, International Health Regulation of WHO also gave a lecture on International Exchange of Disease Surveillance Data and International Health Regulation.

According to the organizer, participants of this symposium will go to visit some designated hospitals for SARS patients including Beijing Ditan Hospital, Beijing Youan Hospital and Beijing Xiyuan TCM Hospital as well as the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention on June 4.

This symposium was initiated by Premier Wen Jiaobao in the Special Summit Meeting between China and ASEAN on April 29. It is a tangible outcome of the Joint Declaration of the Special China-ASEAN Leaders Meeting and constitutes an important part of the 10+3 joint efforts against SARS.

(China.org.cn by Wang Qian June 3, 2003)

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