Hanoi hosts ministerial meet on flu epidemics

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Some 700 representatives of health and agriculture ministries from nearly 80 countries and territories will attend an international influenza conference in Hanoi next week.

The International Ministerial Conference on Animal and Pandemic Influenza 2010, lasting three days from Monday, will review global responses to epidemics like avian flu (A/H5N1) and pandemic A/H1N1.

An agreement on a consensual Ministerial Statement is also expected to be made at the meeting to guide international cooperation among countries in responses to avian flu and H1N1 pandemic this year and beyond.

The conference is organized by Vietnam in cooperation with Europe, the US, and international organizations like the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Since it was first detected in 2003 in Asia, avian flu has spread to many countries around the world, killing 290 out of over 490 people afflicted with the virus, Jean Marc Olive, chief representative of WHO in Vietnam, said at a press conference on Friday.

Although the epidemic had since waned with infected cases recently reported in only three countries - Egypt, Vietnam and Indonesia, protective efforts are still needed given its complicated developments, he stressed.

Influenza A/H1N1, meanwhile, has affected 213 countries and territories and killed at least 16,931 people worldwide since it broke out in Mexico last April, WHO reported last month.

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