The working seminar, recently held in Vientiane, was designed to boost Laos preparedness in coping with a possible bird flu pandemic, by increasing the efficiency of all concerned personnel and authorities in responding to avian flu cases.
During the seminar, participants familiarized themselves with scenarios simulating bird flu emergencies, and learned how to detect and report new cases, to respond quickly, to prevent further spreading of the disease and provide better health care to those coming in contact with the avian flu virus.
This was the sixth seminar sponsored by the United States and the World Health Organization since 2006. Both have provided millions of dollars in aid to the Lao government to fight bird flu. Last month, the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane donated 6,000 sets of personal protective equipment worth $75,000 to the Lao government to ensure the safety and well being of rapid responders and laboratory personnel in combating the threat of Pandemic Avian Influenza.
Since the disease appeared in Asia in 2003, Laos has faced three bird flu emergencies, in late 2004 to early 2005, in 2006. and early 2007, which has resulted in the culling of over three million birds, causing economic damages worth over 250 billion kips.
The most affected provinces are respectively Vientiane, Savannakhet, Champassak, and Khammouane. There were two human deaths related to bird flu in Vientiane early this year, forcing Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh to order all poultry farms in the province to shut down.
For more details in Lao, listen to our audio files.