Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has sought more funds to combat the threat of avian influenza.
Warning against lowering the guard while dealing with pandemics like avian influenza, Singh said, "We should guard against institutional fatigue while dealing with such pandemics, and never lower our guard. Eternal vigilance is indeed the price of good health, both of our people and our economies."
Addressing at the International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, he expressed satisfaction that the pledges for funds made at the Beijing and Bamako conferences on the pandemic were fulfilled, but said more funds were required for the purpose.
"Many pledges were made at the Beijing Conference in January 2006 as well as at Bamako to support Avian Influenza control and preparedness. Many of them have been fulfilled and generated the resources required for combating Avian Influenza. However, we need more funding support," Singh said.
He said that the Government of India supports the concept of "One Health" based on an integrated approach to animal and human health.
India's scientists are also continuing their work on finding appropriate vaccines for birds and humans.
The High Security Disease laboratory at Bhopal has developed a poultry vaccine using the Indian strain. The National Institute of Virology, Pune has been working on development of a candidate vaccine for Avian influenza using the Indian strain. It is also developing a broadly reactive vaccine for diverse influenza viruses. These studies are being taken up as a public- private partnership effort.
"In dealing with pandemics and public health challenges, we need a multi-pronged strategy that brings together experts and activists, researchers and administrators, government departments and civil society organisations," he added.
The Prime Minister hoped that the Conference would provide us an opportunity to renew our national and international commitments for dealing with the massive threat of influenza.
He also extends a very warm welcome to the Ministers representing various countries.
"Their presence here underscores the commitment of the political leaderships of all these countries to addressing the challenge we face collectively. I am very happy that we have with us the distinguished Director Generals of World Health Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization of Animal Health," Singh added.
Avian flu in the poultry sector has caused huge economic losses and threatened the livelihood of millions and millions of people. The best available strategy is to control it at the level of the animal. Any let-up of our pursuit to stop this disease at the first frontier - i.e. the animal, could be catastrophic in consequences for human beings.