BAMAKO, Mali - With weak surveillance and grinding poverty, Africa is being declared the new frontier in the fight against bird flu. But some of its states should be able to control the disease, a top animal health expert said.
The world's poorest continent, including badly hit Egypt and Nigeria, is regarded as the weakest link in the worldwide operation to stem infections among birds, and head off a potentially devastating human flu pandemic.
Bernard Vallat, director-general of the World Organisation for Animal Health, said: "Within the southern part of Africa there are countries, Botswana for example, which would be capable of detecting the virus quickly."
He said Namibia, Swaziland, the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius and certain provinces of South Africa also had the technical capacity to detect a bird flu outbreak quickly.
These countries are far from the areas infected by the H5N1 virus in West and North Africa, but they offer hope for countries trying to bring their own surveillance services up to scratch.
Global experts are meeting in Mali this week to hone their strategies to fight highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu and raise about R8,4 billion to R10,5 billion in funding. - Reuters