Vol. 5 Num 905 Wed. December 13, 2006  

'Conduct nationwide surveillance to prevent bird flu'

Adviser to the caretaker government Dhiraj Kumar Nath yesterday stressed the need to create a proper environment to rear livestock in order to contain any possible outbreak of avian influenza.

Describing avian influenza as a global problem, he urged the agencies concerned to conduct nationwide clinical and laboratory surveillance of animal diseases and develop technical skills in various fields.

The adviser was speaking as the chief guest at a workshop on a project titled 'Immediate Technical Assistance to Strengthen Emergency Preparedness for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)' at Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council (BARC) auditorium in the city.

Department of Livestock Services (DLS), Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) organised the workshop, supported by USAID, to promote coordination among development partners and government agencies in implementing the project.

The adviser said the country is still free from bird flu but highly vulnerable to the pandemic disease due to its geographical position as the neighbouring countries, including India and Myanmar, have already experienced the outbreak of the disease.

Ad Spijkers, FAO representative in Bangladesh, said the project is aimed at addressing the urgent and short-term requirements in the region in order to rapidly detect and control the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

He said there is a devastating effect on the poultry industry and some strains of HPAI virus can cause fatal infections in humans.

He also emphasised close cooperation between the government and the private sector for successful containment of the disease.

Presenting a paper, DLS Director Abdul Motalib said it is the high time to take preparedness measures to combat avian influenza as migratory birds fly in to the country in winter season.

He also underscored the need to raise awareness among poultry farmers and common people through massive media campaign, especially on television.

FAO international consultant Gordon Finley, national consultant Rafiqul Islam, HPAI Project Director MA Baqi, Additional Secretary to Economic Relations Division Iqbal Mahmood also spoke.