28 Feb 2006

Pacific Islands urged to do more to prepare for pandemic

10:27 am on 28 February 2006

An official with the World Health Organisation says Pacific Island countries are making progress in their preparations to combat an outbreak of the bird flu virus, but much still needs to be done.

And Dr Chen Ken, the WHO representative for the South Pacific, says help from Australia and New Zealand is vital.

The island countries' leaders stressed at last October's summit in Port Moresby that there is a need for quick action.

Dr Chen, part of a WHO delegation visiting New Zealand to discuss pandemic preparedness, says they have been helping island countries draft their pandemic preparedness plan.

But he says there is a still a lot of work to do.

"Because the capacity is generally still weak we are closely working with the SPC and we understand that the SPC will get the support of the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government to strengthen the capacity of Pacific Islands countries in response to any possible outbreak in the future."