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FAO: Bird Flu Not Under Control Yet

The prevalent avian influenza in several Asian countries has not been under control and international cooperation is still needed to address the issue, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday.

"Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Laos continue to report new outbreaks in poultry," the Bangkok-based FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific quoted a FAO statement as saying.

Concerned countries were called on by the UN agency to remain vigilant as further outbreaks continue to occur, it said.

FAO also affirmed the improved cooperation with countries affected by the fowl disease, saying that the countries realized that cooperation and transparency were absolutely essential for the fight against bird flu.

However, though affected countries including China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have set up information and response structures, some countries under the hit of the disease were still faced with very difficult situation.

Some "poorer countries" were slow to take emergency response to the crisis due to the lack of resources such as qualified veterinary staff, diagnostic tools and transport, said the FAO release.

Besides, the urgently required administrative and political structures to run an effective emergency campaign were often not yet in place.

Trying to work out a way to help those affected countries step out the crisis, FAO suggested that the coordination of donor assistance and the increased provision of emergency inputs should be better.

"It should be ensured that funds reach the target beneficiaries," it said.

To date, around 80 million chickens have been culled to battle the epidemic, excluding China, according to the document.

Veterinarians from more than 20 countries were expected to meet in Bangkok from Feb. 26-28 to discuss about the epidemic's economic impact.

(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2004)

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