20 Sep 2005

Prepare for bird flu, conference in New Caledonia hears

8:27 am on 20 September 2005

The World Health Organisation meeting in New Caledonia say the planet must be prepared for a pandemic of bird flu.

Speaking in the territorial capital, Noumea, the WHO director-general Lee Jong-Wook, said no government and no head of state could be taken unawares.

Mr Lee said it was obvious that a pandemic would occur, all the conditions are in place, and the problem now was time.

The WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, Shigeru Omi said while there's still a window of opportunity, nations must do everything they can to avert an influenza pandemic.

More than 100 representatives, including several health ministers, are meeting in New Caledonia until Friday.

The WHO has developed an Asian Pacific Avian Influenza Action Plan that will need about 160 million dollars to implement.

A donors' meeting will be held later this year to seek funds.