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G8: Greater efforts to prepare

01.01.70

International health officials from the Group of Eight nations are warning more preparations are needed in case of a global human bird flu pandemic.

The senior G8 health officials are gathering in Moscow ahead of the G8 summit, which Russia will host in July.

Russian health minister Mikhail Zurabov is urging the international community to create a global system for monitoring flu outbreaks in connection with bird flu, and increase efforts to stem the spread of HIV and AIDS.

He also proposed developing a global information and analysis system to monitor infectious diseases, as well as setting up an international bank of anti-viral drugs.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt says scientists and health officials are unable to make predictions about a possible pandemic, but that it's important to start addressing the problem now.

The head of the UN World Health Organization, Lee Jong-wook, says a whole package of measures are needed.

He said: "Clearly there are many countries and scientists who are doing everything possible right now but there is no guarantee that these measures will in fact provide protection so what we need is a comprehensive plan and comprehensive preparedness rather than these false reliance or belief on what drug or one vaccine."

Bird flu has killed at least 113 people since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in 2003.

It cannot easily spread among humans, but there are fears it could mutate into a form that does, potentially sparking a pandemic.

Expert opinion

Halter Marek

02.12.06

Halter Marek
Le College de France
Olivier Giscard dEstaing

02.12.06

Olivier Giscard dEstaing
COPAM, France
Mika Ohbayashi

02.12.06

Mika Ohbayashi
Institute for Sustainable Energy Poliy
Bill Pace

02.12.06

Bill Pace
World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
Peter I. Hajnal

01.12.06

Peter I. Hajnal
Toronto University, G8 Research Group