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Indian Government Sets Up Task Force For Avian flu

The government of India is closely watching the ‘Avian Flu’ that is spreading through migratory birds from China. //It has now formed a task force to tackle this emergency.

The task force is headed by Cabinet Secretary B.K.Chaturvedi and includes secretaries of health, environment, animal husbandry and agriculture ministries. The inter-ministerial task force is to formulate guidelines on how to tackle the problem if it does occur in India and also ensure stockpiling of sufficient drugs. The group will network with international agencies like the WHO and exchange information regularly.

Health Secretary P.K.Hota said: 'While the inter-group consultations would take place everyday, the Cabinet Secretary would review the situation every fortnight.’ There have so far been almost 60 deaths due to the Bird Flu in the world and WHO is predicting that it could get worse with time.

The nodal agency that would be in charge would be ‘National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)’ and it will network with National Institute of Immunology (Pune), AIIMS (Delhi) and Antiviral Laboratory in Mumbai to screen people for the virus.

Stockpiling of Vaccines and drug like Tamiflu is another priority and The Health Ministry has invited many Pharmaceuticals to help out. ‘We have spoken to Roche, Cipla and Ranbaxy, and are looking into the licensing and patent issues,’ said an official from the Health Ministry.

The government is following the WHO Action Plan that classifies the disease in six phases. India is a Phase I country as no cases have been reported so far. ‘While we have got the reagent from CDC Atlanta, we have also formed our own testing kit,’ said Dr Shiv Lal, the director of the NICD.

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