WHO session discusses fight against infectious diseases
GENEVA, May 22 (Itar-Tass) — The 59th session of the World Health Organization, which opened here on Monday, will focus on infectious diseases, such as AID/HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and bird flu, Russian Minister of Health and Social Development Mikhail Zurabov told Tass.
The minister leads the Russian delegation to the forum. Zurabov said the session would also discuss “control over the spread of the virus, and the setting up of a single system to monitor virus strains and exchange information”.
The minister said the fate of laboratory collections of the smallpox virus would be among the pressing issues under discussions. Nowadays, there are two “official collections of the smallpox virus in the world. One of them is in Russia and another one – in the USA.
“Some countries believe it’s time to liquidate them. Russia is more cautious on the issue,” Zurabov added. As there has been no vaccination against smallpox over the past 25 years, “immunity has sharply weakened,” he stressed.
Two new vaccines and two new medicines to treat smallpox are to be developed. “We must move actively in that direction,” Zurabov stressed. “We have a chance to achieve it, after which Russia will of course support the initiative to liquidate the collections of the smallpox virus,” he stressed.
In Geneva, Zurabov met with his counterparts from CIS states. He said a meeting of G-8 health ministers would be held in Geneva on Monday. Ministers will discuss coordinated efforts in fight against epizooty of birds and preventive measures in connection with a threat of bird flu pandemic. “That issue will be one of the pressing matters to be discussed at a G8 summit in St. Petersburg,” he said.
The Russian minister also expressed condolences over the death of the WHO chief, Dr. Lee Jong-