Vietnam is now focusing on vaccinating fowls against bird flu viruses, intensifying disease surveillance at grass-root levels, and restructuring its animal breeding industry, top local veterinary official told Xinhua in Da Nang City Friday.
"Under the current situation, we centers on increasing immunity of poultry, surveillance right at communes, even hamlets nationwide, and bio-security of fowl production and trading," Bui Quang Anh, director of the Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the ongoing APEC Ministerial Meeting on Avian and Influenza Pandemics.
Since early 2006, Vietnam has imported 150 million doses of poultry vaccines against bird flu virus strain H5N1 from China, Anh said, noting that additional 150 million doses will arrive in his country this month.
"Since March, we have vaccinated 65 million fowls in over 50 cities and provinces nationwide. We are trying to complete the first batch of vaccination among 120 million poultry by late May. We will conduct the second batch on the same fowls between August and October," he said.
"This year, we import bird flu vaccines mainly from China. Even some more companies, besides those being designated by the Vietnamese government to import the vaccines, are importing Chinese vaccines since their prices are low," Anh said.
In 2005, Vietnam imported 350 million doses of bird flu vaccines from China, and a small amount from a couple of other countries to vaccinate chickens and ducks, he said, stating that the vaccination "is of importance, helping prevent the disease from spreading."
Vietnam used 300 million doses of vaccines in 84 million chickens and 40 million ducks last year. The Vietnamese government has allocated 15.3 million U.S. dollars for bird flu vaccination among poultry in the 2005-2006 period.
Vietnam has detected no new outbreaks of bird flu among fowls since the last outbreak was reported northern Cao Bang province in mid-December 2005.
In addition to mass vaccination, Vietnam is "intensifying operation of surveillance systems at all levels, especially grass- root level like communes and farms," Anh said, noting that their good operation will timely spot new outbreaks, which will result in adequate follow-up activities.
"For us, restructuring the production and trade of fowls is also important. To increase the bio-security, we will raise poultry on larger scale and far from residential areas. Raising fowls in a scattered way among households will be limited," he said.
Vietnam is also re-zoning its poultry slaughter and market systems with focus on establishing concentrated large slaughterhouses and fowl markets, he added.
Besides the three priority fields, the country has taken many other technical measures and strategies to control bird flu among poultry, including enhancement of political commitments and transparency, rapid culling of infected fowls and poultry in high- risk areas, disinfection of affected areas, control of poultry movement, promotion of public awareness, and intensifying international cooperation, the official noted.
Some 190 representatives, including seven health and agriculture ministers and 13 deputy ministers from the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the APEC's Secretariat and five international organizations attended the one- day ministerial meeting.
They discussed and showed political commitments to developing plans for continuity of operations and other actions to mitigate socioeconomic impact of a pandemic; and touched upon ongoing projects and programs to tackle bird flu pandemics in the APEC region, implementation of recommendations from various regional and international events on bird flu pandemics control, mobilization and allocation of 1.9 billion U.S. dollars pledged at the Beijing Ministerial Conference, and a plan action on prevention and response to pandemics in the region.