Australia, Finland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland Join Gov’t-UN Fight Against Avian Influenza

Nov 25, 2005

HA NOI -- As human cases of Avian Influenza continue to rise in Viet Nam, the governments of Australia, Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland added their support to the $6.8 million Joint Government-United Nations Programme to Combat Avian Influenza, backed by the Netherlands in October.

These latest contributions come at a time when 93 confirmed human cases of the H5N1 strain of the virus have been identified in Viet Nam since 2003, including 42 deaths, the highest number in the world. 

“This is a coordinated partnership with the government, the international community and the United Nations to ensure fast, effective delivery of money, of advice and of information to Viet Nam,” said Jordan Ryan, United Nations Resident Coordinator. “We are in the midst of a critical phase where education, prevention and sound decisions can help avoid a pandemic.”

Designed to support and strengthen Viet Nam’s efforts to avert a deadly national outbreak of the virus in humans, the implementation of the six-month emergency plan has already begun. Five hundred and nineteen refrigerators have been purchased and delivered to 46 provinces and cities to store the poultry vaccinations. Procurement plans for, for example protective clothing for laboratory staff and poultry vaccinators and drugs is underway.

As part of the first phase of the programme, a nation-wide public education campaign will take place to increase awareness among the general public, and also to change behaviours to help avert an epidemic. Everyone, including farmers, merchants and those handling poultry and birds, need to understand how to stop the spread of the virus and how to protect themselves and their families. UNICEF will lead this important communications component, joining the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as members of the joint Government-UN programme.

A special Steering Committee, made up of key government, donor and UN officials and under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) was formed to direct the Joint Programme’s activities. The Ministry of Health and WHO have developed a detailed action plan and key emergency staff positions have been filled.

“The Government appreciates the efforts by the United Nations and the donor community to address these immediate Avian Influenza issues,” said Dr. Bui Ba Bong, Vice Minister of MARD. “And we are also looking forward to the second phase of the programme to address national capacity building to deal with public health hazards in the longer term.”

The $6.8 million Emergency Phase of the Government-UN Joint Programme to Combat Avian Influenza is supported by Australia ($750,000), Finland ($3.3 million), Luxembourg ($587,500), the Netherlands ($1.175 Million), Sweden ($510,856) and Switzerland ($400,000).

Contact informationMr. Koos Neefjes, UNDP Sustainable Development Unit
(84-4) 942-1495 ext.289

Ms. Nguyen Viet Lan, UNDP Media and Publications Unit
(84-4) 942-1495 ext.186