India To Conduct Mock Drills & Exercise To Combat Bird Flu06 December 2007
INDIA - Beginning January 2008, India would conduct table-top exercises, simulations and mock drills jointly with other by countries to combat Avian influenza or commonly known as bird flu.
New Delhi is also planning to integrate pandemic preparedness into national disaster management structures to review roles and responsibility to engage different sector other health.
These are some of the possible elements for Road Map suggested by India, that is currently being debated here at the three day International Ministerial Conference on Avian Influenza and Pandemic Preparedness by heads of UN agencies like FAO, WHO, OIE and donor agencies like the World Bank have come together with 105 nations to find out ways to improve the animal health sector.
"India commits itself to adhere to roadmap…… which are deliverable and achievable in the next one year", asserted Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh while cautioning against institutional fatigue against pandemics like avian influenza. "We should guard against institutional fatigue while dealing with such pandemics, and never lower our guard. Eternal vigilance is indeed the price of good health, both of our people and our economies," he noted.
"In dealing with pandemics and public health challenges, we need a multi-pronged strategy that brings together experts and activists, researchers and administrators, government departments and civil society organisations," he added.
Another important element that New Delhi has suggested is exploring the introduction of bio security measures into household poultry productions. To this end, it has also called for a launch of demonstration project. Besides it has also stressed the need for committing a national policy for bio security drawing upon the expertise of FAO, OIE and World Bank among commercial poultry procedure.
Bird Flu has not only taken lives but also caused enormous economic losses. It is estimated that poultry industry in India alone suffered a loss of over $2 billion in the 2006 outbreak in Maharashtra.
Stating that India supports the concept of "One Health" based on an integrated approach to animal and human health, the Prime Minister pointed out Indian scientists were continuing their work on finding appropriate vaccines for birds and humans.
The Bhopal based High Disease Animal Laboratory (HDAL) has developed poultry vaccine against avian flu in the country. HDAL, which has the technique for identifying the avian influenza virus among poultry, tests thousands of bird samples, including droppings of migratory birds, after avian flu (H5N1) hit some parts of western Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra two year back.
Similarly Pune based National Institute of Virology has been working on development of a broadly reactive vaccine for diverse influenza viruses.