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SOM meeting on Avian Influenza and Human Pandemic Preparedness concludes its work in Vienna

7 June 2006 , Vienna - The Senior Official Meeting on Avian Influenza and Human Pandemic Preparedness ended today in Vienna after two days of work.

Co-organized by the European Commission, the United States of America , the People's Republic of China and the Austrian EU Presidency, the principal aim of the meeting was to confirm the financial resources already pledged at the Beijing conference earlier this year.

The OIE, together with its partners FAO and WHO presented an up-date on the needs and financial gaps that are still to be filled in order to be able to control the disease worldwide. In fact, during the last few months the virus has reached Europe and Africa which were not infected at the time of the Beijing meeting and which, as a result, were included in the pledging for prevention and not for disease control policies.

In Vienna , the OIE together with the FAO and the AU-IBAR ( Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources of the African Union) particularly stressed the need for the international community to take rapid action in the control of the evolving animal situation in Africa. Supported by the World Bank, together with key donors, the OIE/FAO/AU-IBAR and all African institutions involved in the control of animal diseases, the ALive Platform has been identified as an optimal coordination mechanism by all participants in the prevention and control of avian influenza in Africa.

The AU and the OIE also called for the next pledging conference to be held in Africa in autumn. ALive experts calculated that at least further 700 million US dollars would be needed mainly to focus on the short and medium term control of the situation in Africa .

The ongoing spread of the animal virus in South East Asia and particularly in Indonesia has also been addressed by the participants as a matter of concern. The Indonesian delegation mentioned that besides all efforts undertaken in the control and the management of the disease, a lot of action was still to be done and appealed for further international assistance. Decentralization of Veterinary Services remains one of the main obstacles to be overcome in order to address the situation in this country,

The conference agreed that even though there was still an important need for political commitment, a real progress had occurred in the control of the animal disease in several countries which accepted to follow the recommendations of intergovernmental organizations such as OIE and FAO and in the elaboration by countries of national human pandemic preparedness plans.

Commenting on the conference, Dr Bernard Vallat stated that resources pledged in Beijing had to be tranferred very soon. ‘The evaluation of the financial needs presented by the OIE in Beijing to control avian influenza at its animal source worldwide are still the same, except for Africa ” he said. ‘As of today, the OIE only received 32% of the total needs. Other intergovernmental organizations are in a similar situation. The political commitment worldwide is crucial if we really want to achieve our goals'.