Thursday, June 22, 2006

Health: Eighth ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting opens in Myanmar

The eighth ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting opened in Yangon on Wednesday with an agenda to discuss rapid response and pandemic preparedness to prevent and combat avian influenza.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the one-day meeting, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, secretary of Myanmar's ruling State Peace and Development Council, called for greater cooperation and coordination among the ASEAN member nations to deal with public health emergencies.

Citing the recent spread of bird flu and the risk of a human influenza pandemic, as well as the challenges of pubic health emergencies such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Thein Sein said ASEAN must show unity, solidarity and resilience in facing these challenges.

"It is now time for countries to be more aware of these threats and to strengthen our existing disease surveillance network and equip our laboratories for rapid diagnosis and response for protection of our population," Thein Sein said.