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OIE/FAO International Conference on Avian Influenza - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has formally appealed to the international community for assistance in its fight against Avian Influenza (AI)

Paris, 8 April 2005 - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has formally appealed to the international community for assistance in its fight against Avian Influenza (AI), according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

North Korea's official appeal was made public at an international conference on bird flu that ended in Paris today, jointly organised by OIE/FAO, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Around 300 key veterinary experts and scientists met to discuss the current scientific information on bird flu and to address different aspects of disease surveillance and control strategies.

North Korea has asked FAO and OIE to provide diagnostic tools and technical assistance for disease control strategies, including vaccination.

OIE and FAO welcomed North Korea's request as a sign of improved transparency and international cooperation. Both organisations said that they are ready to extend their technical support to ensure an effective control of the disease in the country.

FAO experts have already been fielded to Pyonyang and are currently supporting the government in obtaining information on the extent of the outbreaks and designing control strategies. OIE has been asked to assist in the training of veterinary experts.

The FAO/OIE conference in Paris appealed to donor countries to provide more funds for the fight against avian influenza in Asia for which around US$ 100 million would be urgently required. So far, only Germany, Japan and The Netherlands have expressed their willingness to financially support affected Asian countries.

Many of the countries affected or threatened by AI are under-resourced and lack the capacity of veterinary services for an effective and early detection and response to the epidemic in poultry, the conference concluded.

Improving the efficiency of veterinary services in affected countries is essential for controlling the disease at its source in poultry and free farmed ducks. Strategies are needed for financing sustainable, concrete actions at local level. This is likely to include support for restocking or compensation for losses and should also encompass education on safe poultry keeping and development of appropriate infrastructures and services.

Further scientific research is required to obtain more information on the potential virus transmission from animals to humans. The conference also urged laboratory networks coordinated by OIE/FAO and WHO, to conduct research on the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus and other avian influenza viruses that could pose a potential threat to humans.

Veterinary and Public Health Services should better work together to improve national, regional and global health security. Public Health Services should support the agriculture sector and veterinary services in order to control and eliminate the disease at its origin.

OIE and FAO announced the launch of the New Worldwide Avian Influenza Network (OFFLU) which will improve the collaboration between reference laboratories specialised on AI in animals, coordinated by OIE and FAO and laboratory networks focusing on human influenza coordinated by WHO.

The network will speed up the immediate exchange of scientific data on bird flu and animal virus strains to produce efficacious vaccines for humans that respond to specific virus characteristics.

April 2005

Recommendations of the OIE/FAO International Scientific Conference on Avian Influenza - Paris (France), 7-8 April 2005