Avian flu high-risk status sought

Kathmandu, January 23:

The government has requested the donor agencies to list Nepal under the avian influenza high-risk country.

In the International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza held last week in China, Nepal claimed its location between India — a high-risk country as categorised by the International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza held recently in China — and China, which has already seen many cases of the killer bird flu, makes Nepal a high-risk country the government has claimed. Nepal’s open border with India which has a culture of mix and open poultry farming and Nepal being a home to migratory birds from Russia and China have also made Nepal a high-risk country.

A World Bank report, however, has listed Nepal under low risk country on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza.

A three-member government team under the co-ordination of Mani Lama, state minister for Health and Population, Dr Nirakar Man Shrestha, chief specialist at MoHP and Dr Mahendra Bahadur Bista, director at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) had represented Nepal in the conference co-sponsored by China, the European Commission and the World Bank.

State minister for Health requested the WB officials to put Nepal in the high-risk category list from its low risk category.

Dr Mahendra Bahadur Bista, director at EDCD the MoHP, the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives and the Home Ministry are working together to achieve the national plan of action to check avian flu in the country. Thought no case of avian flu has been reported in Nepal as of yet but the country is at a high risk.

Nepal has estimated a budget of $15.133 million for execution of Avian and Human Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan from 2006 to 2008. Of this estimated $109,000 will be spent for Planning and Co-ordination, $632,-000 for Surveillance of Human Influenza, $10.035 million for Prevention and Containment of Avian Influenza, $4.097 million for Health Systems Preparedness and Response, $45,000 for Communications and $225,000 for lab development.