Speech at the High-level Meeting on Avian Influenza

01 Nov 2006

Speaker: Mr. John Hendra, United Nations Resident Coordinator
Date:      1 Nov 2006
Event:     Avian Influenza High Level Meeting
Venue:    Hanoi

Dr. Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development and Chairman of the National Committee on Avian Influenza.
 
Dr Trinh Quan Huan, Vice Minister of Health
 
Mr. Laurent Msellati, Manager Country Portfolio and Operations, World Bank
 
Ambassadors and Distinguished Representatives from the donor community, Fellow Heads of United Nations Agencies and World Bank colleagues
 
Ministries, National Agencies and Provinces
 
International NGOs
 
Friends and Colleagues,  
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
At the outset, it is very much my privilege as UN Resident Coordinator to also welcome everyone here this morning and to have an opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the United Nations at today’s Meeting on Avian and Human Influenza.  
 
Achievements of Viet Nam
 
First, I would very much like to recognize and congratulate the Government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Health, for their impressive achievements in controlling the threat of Avian Influenza, and in preparing for the eventuality of a Human Influenza pandemic in Viet Nam. In particular, the quick and responsive poultry vaccination and public awareness campaigns conducted last winter, just before Tet, are widely believed to have been key factors in limiting the outbreaks amongst birds and preventing infection of people.  
 
Despite the global spread of Avian Influenza, the epicentre of the outbreak is still in Asia, mostly notably in Indonesia where the number of human infections continues to rise on a weekly basis. Although there have been no reports of outbreaks in Viet Nam for nearly a year, this country is still amongst the most affected countries and the virus is endemic in the environment. Hence continued vigilance for its possible return is essential and for this reason, the continuing work being done by Viet Nam in its poultry vaccination campaign and, in reinforcing and enhancing its surveillance and reporting systems, is especially important.

Viet Nam continues to be a leader, providing the world with a clear example of how a well coordinated and integrated effort, led by the National Steering Committee on Avian Influenza, can control this disease at its source. The integrated response from the human and livestock health sectors has been a key ingredient to Viet Nam’s success. Viet Nam’s transparency in reporting cases and in collaborating with international efforts to develop vaccines has also been important.  
 
Partnerships
 
As you all know, the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan was here earlier this year, and Avian and Human Influenza was a key topic in his discussions with the leaders of Viet Nam.  As the Secretary-General said:   
 
 “Viet Nam has also taken the lead in the fight against avian influenza, with impressive results. Viet Nam's success in controlling the most recent outbreak of the H5N1 strain of the virus has again demonstrated the Government's remarkable ability to take quick action, and effective action in emergency situations. But there's no room for complacency. We have shown progress and success, but this is a kind of strain, a disease that can linger and pop up again at any moment, so the public education must continue, efforts to contain it must continue. But they have made remarkable progress and I hope the Government is ready to share its expertise and organizational strategy to combat the avian influenza with other countries and other regions working to contain the influenza.”
 
Importantly, in the context of UN reform and broader donor efforts to improve aid effectiveness in line with the Ha Noi Core Statement, important efforts are being made to facilitate greater harmonisation between donors – and also in our case between UN Agencies -- in our efforts to best support Viet Nam. As the UN, we see the First Phase – and now the Second Phase – of the Government-UN Joint Programme on Avian Influenza as a good example of the greater synergies and enhanced development effectiveness we can help Viet Nam achieve when we work together as one, coherent United Nations  
 
I am also very pleased with the strong collaboration over the past year between the World Bank and the various UN Agencies and Programmes, notably our combined support to the Government in formulating first the National Framework – or Red Book - and secondly, earlier this year, the Operational Programme for Avian and Human Influenza (2006-2010) - the OPI or “Green Book,” which has provided the overall framework for designing interventions, and cementing broader partnerships.
 
Improving collaboration between national agencies, donors and UN Agencies, and enhancing overall development outcomes, requires strong national leadership – as is so clearly demonstrated in the case of Avian Influenza.  In supporting the Partnership for Avian and Human Influenza or – “PAHI” – as partners we seek to ensure that Government leadership and overall coordination is further enhanced through joint leadership by the two Ministries supported by UN Agencies, the World Bank and other key donors. In this context, it will be important that PAHI members actively collaborate on monitoring, and reporting, to the PAHI Secretariat, in order to ensure that the partnership is not simply on paper but really enhances integration, helps avoid overlap, and achieves greater programmatic synergy between different initiatives.  
 
Need for Continued Funding Commitment
 
We are pleased to see the successful results of the First Phase of the Government-United Nations Joint Programme on Avian and Human Influenza, which included harmonized co-financing support from seven bilateral donors – Australia; Canada; Finland; Luxembourg; The Netherlands; Sweden and Switzerland – whose important support I would like to recognize this morning.
 
As we know, Phase I focused on emergency support, and included activities that assisted in the formulation of the OPI – with the establishment of which we now see a move to more medium-term, integrated disease control and prevention, which forms the basis for Phase II of the Joint Programme.   
 
As we will see later this morning, the Second Phase of the Joint Programme covers the period until 2010 and builds on experience and lessons learned during Phase I, in particular the need to build capacity in the livestock development and human health sectors. It also has important components on raising awareness for behaviour change, and will assist the Government in enhancing coordination.  
 
We will also hear later this morning about commitments made by both the Government, and the international community, in support of the implementation of the OPI. To this stage, support from the international community has been critical in support of Viet nam’s overall achievements and some new commitments are under preparation.  
 
 However, despite these significant contributions, and important overall results, as Kofi Annan reminds us, we cannot be complacent and additional funding will be needed to ensure further strengthening of both the livestock and human health sectors.  
 
In that context, I am confident that today’s discussions, and concerted follow-up immediately thereafter, will lead to us raising the additional funding required and accelerating implementation of Phase Two going forward.
 
Thank you very much for your kind attention.