25 Nov 2008

Pacific Avian and Pandemic Influenza Taskforce meeting underway in Fiji

11:05 am on 25 November 2008

The Pacific Avian and Pandemic Influenza Taskforce is meeting in Nadi in Fiji this week to assess the region's preparedness for possible outbreaks of infectious diseases.

The Epidemiologist at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, or SPC, Dr Tom Kiedrzynski says preparedness will help Pacific countries control emerging scourges like severe acute respiratory syndrome and current epidemics such as dengue fever.

A workshop on dengue is being held on Thursday following the three-day regional forum on avian and pandemic influenza preparedness.

The SPC's Animal Health and Production adviser, Dr Ken Cokanasiga, says Pacific Island countries are still vulnerable to the bird flu virus which is persisting in countries adjacent to the region, such as Indonesia.

Animal health specialists will also meet this week to discuss issues specific to improving regional response capacity for emergency animal diseases that may threaten not only food security but also human lives.