France helps Africa curb bird flu

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The French Ministry of Health, Youth and Sports has granted a 2,700,000-euro subsidy (about FCFA1.7 billion) to set up a monitoring and study network for viral bird flu strains for Pasteur Institutes in Africa, a reliable source told PANA here Tuesday.

The subsidy, granted under an agreement signed 25 June 2007, has been divided between the Pasteur Institutes in the CAR, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, the Cameroon Pasteur Centre and the Medical and Health Research Centre (CERMES) in Niger.

The grant will also be used to technically support the health and animal resources ministries in those countries in diagnosing bird flu.

Of the total grant, the Cameroon Pasteur Centre secured 267,500 euros (FCFA175.5 million) that will be used to build the capacities of the virology laboratory on bird flu and differential diagnoses of bird flu and other similar infections, according to the French Embassy in Cameroon.

“This money will further help strengthen the network for epidemiological and virological surveillance in Cameroon as well as build the epidemiological and virological research capacities on suspect and/or confirmed cases,” the source SAID.

The H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, which was was first reported in Africa in Egypt early 2006, has seriously undermined the poultry sector in various countries over the last two years.

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