Zambia Allocates More for Bird Flu

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In an article ‘Zambia Budgets US$4,000 for Bird Flu’ in your edition of Wednesday 22 February, you pointed out that Zambia had allocated “$4000 for the bird flu this year, outraging local media commentators who said the funds were too little to combat the deadly H5N1 strain”. I would like to inform the readership that the Zambian Government has since taken additional measures to fight the bird flu. The Zambian Cabinet has approved a comprehensive National Response Plan to deal with the threat and a K16 billion (US$4.6m) budget towards preparations for an outbreak of bird flu. The National Response Plan and national budget emphasise pre-pandemic phase activities aimed at reducing human infections and strengthening early warning systems and preparedness for an outbreak of bird flu. Government has also instituted active surveillance activities, deployed personnel in border areas to restrict poultry entry and developed information on the virus to correct the situation. Plans are underway to strengthen the virology laboratory at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka to enhance in-country testing of the virus. Compensation packages for those who would have their poultry destroyed are also being put in place. The Government is also soliciting for support from the multilateral and bilateral donors to develop the capacity to respond adequately to an outbreak of bird flu. Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for keeping the Namibian public informed of events taking place in neighbouring countries. G K Nyirongo High Commissioner to Zambia