The turn of the century started with a big bang, bringing hope and aspirations for people around the world. However, fate and nature had ideas of their own. 2001 opened with it Pandora 's Box of both natural disasters and man made ones.
The first internationally reported disaster was in 2000 on February 1st in California when a jet bound for S.F plugged into the sea. Soon after a whole string of disasters followed.
Droughts hitting India, the Gujarat 's 7. 9 Richter scale earthquake, a second in Peru, the Nine eleven disaster, the tanker spill in Spain and on March 13th 2003 the first alert over SARS which became an international epidemic.
The SARS virus still hangs like a sword, its outbreak could once again lead to an international disaster, and this time perhaps with far greater consequences. The UN at a three-day conference on the "Bird Flu Virus" announced that it's high time to undertake mass vaccinations on poultry to prevent bird flu from becoming a human epidemic.
The virus has managed to lurk in Asian countries and surface every so often and is quite capable of springing major surprises. Already it has taken a toll of 55 people in Asia this year.
The virus currently appears to spread only by close association of humans and poultry. But the Health and animal experts fear that it could mutate into a form, which can easily pass among people and hence trigger a global epidemic.
Dr. Shigeru Omi of WHO at the opening of the OIE conference said, "The virus has behaved in ways that suggests it remains as unstable, unpredictable and versatile as ever. Judging by its performance today we need to be on constant alert for surprises."
The virus has already reemerged in China last month in the remote Qinghai province killing 6000 wild migratory birds. It has chronically infected Vietnam and both Cambodia and possibly Indonesia reporting their first human cases of the virus has been causing great turbulence in the minds of the international government.
Asia needs about $100 million over the next two years to fund a viable program to fight bird flu, but so far only one-tenth that amount has been raised. Pledges from donors such as the EU and the U.S. are still not enough and quick solutions to the problem, which is now a global, issue of top priority health issues to tackle.