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IDB, Pan American Health Organization sign agreement for cooperation on prevention of avian flu

The Inter-American Development Bank and the Pan American Health Organization today announced they have signed a technical cooperation agreement for a program for prevention of avian influenza and human pandemic influenza and preparedness in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The director of PAHO, Mirta Roses Periago, and the manager of the IDB  Integration and Regional Programs Department, Nohra Rey de Marulanda, signed the agreement for a $200,000 operation to assist countries in developing preparedness plans, strengthening the early warning system to mitigate the risk and socioeconomic impact of a possible pandemic.

The economic and social costs of the avian influenza could be enormous for the region, due to losses in poultry production for domestic consumption and international trade and in tourism and other activities. Moreover, in the absence of economic compensation mechanisms, it would lead to an increase in poverty among millions of rural families and small farmers.

The program will assess the risk of a pandemic and the level of preparedness of each country in the region, and will identify financial needs and instruments available to help them develop and implement a plan.

The IDB contribution to this program, from the Fund for Special Operations, will total $149,000. PAHO’s support for these activities will amount to $51,000.

A Regional Plan developed by the PAHO to prepare for a possible pandemic involves regional and national activities to be implemented in three phases: the current pre-pandemic phase; an emergency phase, in case a virus is identified in animals at the local level; and a pandemic phase, if the disease spreads in a country from domestic or foreign sources.

The program will also support the preparation of an IDB action plan to use the current and eventually new financial instruments to support the countries in the implementation of the preparedness plans and in the mitigation effects of a possible pandemic.

In the pre-pandemic phase, the objective is to strengthen surveillance in animal and human health and sanitary regulations to reduce the chances of human infection and to strengthen emergency plans and the early warning system.

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