Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 2 News List

President hosts emergency meeting about avian flu

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan should do its best to have itself included in operational global networks aimed at preventing an outbreak of the deadly bird flu, which might seriously jeopardize the health of not only the 23 million people of Taiwan but also its birds, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

Chen yesterday held an emergency meeting to discuss effective prevention measures against the possible spread of bird flu in Taiwan. In addition to high-ranking officials representing government agencies dealing with the control and prevention of diseases, the former director-general of the Department of Health, Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), who has experience combating the spread of SARS in Taiwan in 2003, received a special invitation.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) was also invited to the discussion by Chen. Since the Exec-utive Yuan in the near future will send a NT$20 billion proposal for a bird-flu prevention project to the opposition-dominated Legislative Yuan, Chen hopes that Wang's participation in the emergency meeting will result in full cooperation on the issue.

Chen said that in August, when the bird flu was still restricted to Asia, the government decided to put the issue onto the national security priority list. He said that US President George W. Bush last month launched the "International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza," calling for a global strategy against bird flu.

"Therefore, Taiwan should do its best to fight for inclusion in existing global networks for disease control and prevention. If the deadly bird flu transforms into human flu in Taiwan, both the nation's health and the safety of birds would be jeopardized. It will also pose a serious threat to both social stability and national security," Chen said.

Chen said that he regrets China's interfering with Taiwan's joining international health organizations. He said that China's behavior makes it very difficult for Taiwan to work globally on preventing epidemics.

In addition, Chen said he suspects that China, which is trying to convince the world of its ability to host the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, has concealed outbreaks of bird flu in a bid to stabilize both social and economic development.

"We have to raise our voices to remind the whole world of the necessity to collaboratively monitor the transparency of disease control in China, which could possibly be a weak link in global epidemics prevention," Chen said.

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