Govt set to begin campaign to check avian flu

Kathmandu, October 5:

The government is all set to conduct an operation to check the spread of avian flu in the country.

Dr Mahendra Bahadur Bista, director general at Department of Health Services, said the government has done everything in its capacity to launch the programme.

“Once the World Bank (WB) gives a green signal we will begin the comprehensive programme to check avian flu in the country,”

he said. A World Bank team is scheduled to visit Nepal in a week’s time to assess the comprehensive programme the country has designed to check avian flu here. The WB is the main donor for the programme.

A cabinet meeting on March 12 had endorsed the National Avian Influenza and Influenza Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan.

A fund of $15.1 million has been earmarked for three years beginning 2006 for the purpose.

Dr Bista said that all the line ministries are working together to strengthen national and international coordination to check the transmission of the deadly disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, the Department of Livestock Services and the Ministry of Health and Population are involved in the programme.

The major objective of the plan is to prevent the disease from entering Nepal, develop a surveillance system of migratory bird, find out the risk difference between human beings and animals, capacity building and strengthening of the health care delivery system, among others.

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) has conducted various projects for better reporting on influenza-like illnesses, viral pneumonia, potential outbreak or clusters of avian influenza, investigation of reported cases and outbreaks, information feedback and information exchange with international partners.

Similarly, the project has also concentrated on thorough study on the use of routine trivalent influenza vaccine, use of pandemic influenza vaccine, and use of antivirals for prophylaxis, other preventive supplies, risk reduction guidelines and community preventive measures.

Altogether 132 cases of confirmed human cases of avian influenza (H5N1) have been reported of which 68 deaths have occurred from December 26, 2003 till November 25, 2005 in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and China, the World Health Organisation has said.