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AVIAN INFLUENZA
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FAO's Response to Avian Flu




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Since late 2003 and early 2004, when a number of Southeast Asian countries almost simultaneously reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1, FAO has worked with affected and at-risk countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean to facilitate capacity building, information sharing and networking, using its own funds and increasingly supported by extra-budgetary financial contributions from multi- and bilateral donors.

The primary objective of these operations was - and continues to be -strengthening of disease intelligence and emergency preparedness, examination of the role of migratory birds in disease spread, support of broad awareness creation and risk communication, analysis of and advice on the social and economic consequences of both the disease and its control, strengthening of field surveillance and laboratory capabilities, and reinforcement of global avian influenza surveillance and early warning capabilities.

FAO fielded 106 and 166 missions respectively in 2004 and 2005 in support of affected and at-risk countries, often together with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the European Community (EC).

In the first six months of 2006, a further 159 missions were carried out to help set up and sustain local, national, regional and global action. By mid-2006, FAO had raised USD 120 million in support of activities against avian influenza.

FAO has so far provided HPAI control and preparedness support in the form of services and/or supplies to 95 countries.
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In 2004, FAO established the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), a corporate platform for the integrated delivery of FAO's livestock programme related to animal health crises such as avian influenza. This mechanism combines the technical animal health programme design responsibilities of FAO's Animal Production and Health Division (AGAH) under the leadership of FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer with the programme delivery capabilities of FAO's Emergency and Rehabilitation Division (TCEO) with its broad operational experience and expertise.
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FAO has supported countries in designing and implementing emergency and mid- to long-term national control strategies, reviewing human capacity, infrastructure and policies for avian influenza surveillance, detection and control, assessing the socio-economic consequences of the crises, as well as the costs and consequences of control measures and various attempts of rehabilitation and long-term restructuring of the poultry sector. FAO also maintains an information service on the evolution of the crisis and of actions carried out worldwide.
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FAO and OIE have prepared a global plan for the progressive control of HPAI, and have established the OIE-FAO Avian Influenza Network (OFFLU), designed to coordinate research, provide confirmatory diagnosis, support countries through provision of experts and interface with WHO in the analysis of virus strains.
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Avian influenza early warning activities at the global level are the joint concern of FAO, OIE and WHO, working together in a Global Early Warning (and Response) System (GLEWS), based at FAO Rome, for transboundary animal diseases and emerging zoonoses.
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FAO has assumed the lead role in the UN-wide UN System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC) - set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in September 2005 - as the specialised UN organization in charge of assisting member states in controlling the disease at source in animals.