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World organizations to develop avian flu early warning system
www.chinaview.cn 2005-11-21 02:50:01

    NAIROBI, Nov. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- An avian flu early warning system, capable of alerting countries and communities on the arrival of potentially infected wild birds, is to be developed by an alliance of organizations led by the United Nations, experts and officials announc ed Sunday in Kenyan capital Nairobi.

    The system, designed to alert authorities on different continents that migratory water birds are on their way, will be established within two years by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) with support and funding from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), they said at a press conference.

    Experts from other leading organizations such as Wetlands International, Birdlife International and the International Wildlife and Game Federation are also expected to be part of the scheme.

    "We will, with UNEP and other partners, be treating the development of this early warning system as a matter of priority. To fully realize it may take two years. But we know that it is needed and we know that the issue of avian flu and similar infections is likely to be a long term one. So such a system should be useful not only over the short but over the long term too," said Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary of CMS.

    "We hope it will be particularly useful in developing countries which are under particular pressure to make the best use of limited resources," he added.

    According to the initial plan, special maps are to be developedfor individual countries pinpointing the precise locations such aslakes, marshes and other wetland areas where the birds are likely to go.

    Armed with such information, local health and environment bodies on continents such as Africa, Asia and South America will be better able to prioritize their planning and response.

    "Precise information on the places where migratory birds go including their resting sites and final destinations is currently scattered across a myriad of organizations, bodies and groups. It is absolutely vital that this is brought together in a way that isuseful to those dealing with the threat of this pandemic backed upby high quality, precision, mapping" said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP.

    The early warning system was given the green light as hundreds of delegates have gathered in Nairobi for the eighth conference to the parties to the CMS, which runs until November 25.

    On Sunday, delegates attended an informal event to hear presentations on migratory species from many of the CMS convention's partners including the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Union.

    Two special sessions also took place over the weekend on relationships between climate change, animal diseases and migratory species.

    Migratory species, creatures that travel across frontiers and territorial waters, face an increasing range of existing and emerging threats to their survival including poaching, habitat loss and pollution up to climate change and animal diseases.

    The conference will consider several species for new protection measures and conservation listings including three species of African bats, the basking shark and gorillas.

    The CMS is a UNEP-linked convention located in Bonn, Germany, with a current membership of over 90 countries. Enditem 

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