Monday, 7 April 2008

Bird flu center opened to protect South East Asia

PHNOM PENH, April 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has opened a regional center in Thailand stocked with supplies to combat a potential outbreak of avian influenza (AI) in Southeast Asia, according to a press release issued here on Monday.

Larger than a soccer field, the Bangkok warehouse contains enough personal protective equipment (PPE), decontamination kits and laboratory equipment to serve tens of thousands of people throughout Southeast Asia, said the press release from the USAID mission in Cambodia.

"Stockpiles of PPE are one critical component of the U.S. government's emergency pandemic preparedness in order to provide protection to first-responders to disease outbreak," said Erin Soto, USAID/Cambodia Mission Director.

"With the establishment of this regional distribution center in Thailand, the USAID is in a position to rapidly re-supply the MAFFin the advent of an AI outbreak," he added.

The first of three regional centers being planned worldwide, the depot will ensure a rapid response to any outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 virus, the release said, adding that the USAID spent nearly 550,000 U.S. dollars stocking the Bangkok depot.

In May 2007, USAID/Cambodia donated 4,500 PPE kits and 50 decontamination kits to Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Bird flu remains a major threat throughout the region with the risk that the virus might mutate and attack humans. Worldwide, the H5N1 virus has been confirmed in more than 330 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which estimates that flu pandemics routinely occur about every 35 years.

Editor: Gao Ying


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