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WHO lauds India for bird flu measures

WHO went on to say that India added a new dimension to international efforts to control the disease.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 22:16 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

The World Health Organisation has complimented India for its "quick response" to a threatened bird flu outbreak.

The world body went on to say that India added a "new dimension" to international efforts to control the disease.

"WHO has commended our operations (to control bird flu). They have told us the quick response of the Indian government has been highly appreciated," Joint Secretary (Animal Husbandry) Upma Chawdhry said at a news briefing in New Delhi.

"India's actions have added a new dimension to the international response to bird flu outbreaks," Chawdhry quoted a WHO communication as saying.

She made the revelation "reluctantly" at the prompting of her husband, Joint Secretary (Health) Vineet Chawdhry, saying her ministry would rather concentrate on the job at hand rather than bask in platitudes.

That job is almost complete with culling operations having ended in a 10 km radius of Navapur in Maharashtra.

Altogether 395,771 birds have been killed -- 289,771 in Maharashtra and 106,000 in Gujarat -- while 93,585 people in the two states have been tested, but there has not been a single case of human avian influenza, Vineet Chawdhry said.

Over Rs 4 million has been paid as compensation to poultry farmers and backyard poultry farmers in the two states, he added.

The High Security Animal Disease Laboratory at Bhopal had tested 516 bird samples from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, West Bengal, Sikkim, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

But only nine samples from Navapur and six from Uchchhal in Gujarat had tested for the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

Based on the experience gained while dealing with the crisis, the government had decided to spend Rs 60 million on strengthening testing facilities across the country.

"We will be doing this by upgrading three regional disease diagnostic laboratories to relive the pressure on NIV (National Institute of Virology, Pune) and NICD (National Institute of Communicable Diseases, New Delhi)," said Indian Council for Medical Research chief NK Ganguly.

The upgraded facilities would be located at Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi and "would help us effectively cover all the country's five health zones", he said.

First Published: Feb 27, 2006 22:16 IST