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UPDATED: 07:45, March 27, 2007
WHO draws up formula on mechanism for bird flu virus distribution
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The World Health Organization ( WHO) kicked off a high-level technical meeting of officials from 16 countries here on Monday to draw up a formula on the means of distribution and dispatch of the Avian Influenza (AI) virus.

The two-day meeting was opened by Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie and also attended by Minister of Health Siti Fadilah Supari and Assistant to WHO Director General Dr David Heymann.

David said that among matters relating to the free distribution of the virus, and the equal access to the vaccine, would be the main theme of the meeting which is attended by WHO-collaborated laboratory staffers and representatives from Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey and the United States.

He added that on the one hand, each of the developing nations should have access to the vaccine in anticipation of a pandemic, but on the other hand, the distribution of the virus was also necessary to measure the risk of change of the virus' genetics, the signal of mutation which relates to the risk of resistance to the anti-virus medicine, the development of equipment for diagnosis and the study of the epidemiology of the disease as well as the development for the vaccine.

And thus, he added, the mechanism of the shipment of the vaccine that would secure the needs, should be formulated soon as part of the readiness in facing a pandemic of the disease.

In the meeting, he said, WHO would ask for inputs from the delegates on the mechanism for the distribution of the virus and the benefit of the correct distribution of the vaccine, by focusing on the need of the developing nations, the vaccine producers and related institutions.

The meeting, he added, would also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Material Transfer Agreement(MTA) and other mechanism options on the virus distribution and long-term solution in relation with the procurement of affordable vaccines.

Siti Fadilah Supari, meanwhile hoped that the meeting could identify and draw a list of issues relating to the change of the mechanism and the vaccine production.

The meeting was held in response to an Indonesian proposal on the need to change the WHO regulations on the distribution of the virus.

Indonesia made the proposal as the existing mechanism was seen of harming the developing countries that still had no facilities and technology for producing the vaccine.

WHO had called on each country hit by the virus to send the virus to the WHO collaborated-laboratories and make sure that other countries should receive the specimen, including the mechanism to produce the vaccine commercially.

Source: Xinhua

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