Africa must find resources to fight bird flu: WHO
Following the announcement of a new bird flu outbreak
in Ivory Coast, the World Health Organisation has said that Africa must find
resources to back international efforts to stop the spread of bird flu and help
prevent a human pandemic.
Alan Hay, a director of the WHO
Influenza Centre said that African nations
cannot afford to ignore the threat of the potentially fatal H5N1 bird
and should be ready to detect and irradicate the virus in poultry and
"The danger is that you might have something where it
could be smouldering and then all of a sudden it shows up in the human
population," Hay said at the Roche Diagnostics Forum in Johannesburg.
The WHO has agreed to help establish regional centres
focused on avian flu in five nations in sub-Saharan Africa - Senegal, Nigeria,
South Africa, Madagascar and Kenya - where "surveillance is less than adequate,"
He said that local governments needed to gather enough
resources to ensure the centres stay operational, because health facilities in
the world's poorest continent are often basic, and diseases can go
Ivory Coast declared a new outbreak of the deadly H5N1
strain of bird flu last week, the first in the West African country since it was
first detected there in April.
The local poultry industry fears that the outbreak
could send demand for chicken plummeting - as it did in the country when the
virus was detected there in April.
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