1. Many APEC economies have been adversely affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza, primarily through the economic disruptions to the poultry industry and the loss of livelihood and food security for the most impoverished populations, as well as, in limited cases, the loss of human life. Since late 2003, the H5N1 avian influenza virus has affected birds in nine of the APEC economies and humans in four economies. While some economies have thus far been successful in containing and mitigating H5N1, the virus has become endemic in birds in other economies. Longer-term control and mitigation measures, and cooperation between economies, will be required to both minimize the effects on agriculture and to reduce the potential for the avian virus to become easily transmitted between humans.

2. To contain avian influenza at its source and prepare for a potential influenza pandemic regardless of source, APEC Leaders endorsed the APEC Initiative on Preparing for and Mitigating an Influenza Pandemic at their last meeting in November 2005. This Initiative identifies eleven areas for collective work by APEC economies to complement and support those of international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

3. APEC Ministers responsible for addressing avian and pandemic influenza welcome the activities that will assist APEC economies in better preparing for and mitigating influenza pandemics. The APEC Health Task Force (HTF) has identified enhancing avian and pandemic influenza preparedness and response as one of the three priorities of its 2006-07 work plan, which responds to a number of areas calling for collective action under the 2005 Leaders' Initiative. HTF activities for 2006 include, but are not limited to: advancing risk communications; assessing economic impacts, supporting capacity-building to combat and prevent avian influenza; promoting assessments of domestic preparedness plans; enhancing regional preparedness through testing regional responses and communication networks; and, compiling a list of regional experts. Many APEC fora and working groups are involved in their own avian and pandemic preparedness work, which underscores the need for a coordinated multi-sectoral approach to prepare and respond to a global pandemic.

4. The following Action Plan, with the principles and commitments of the 2005 Leaders' Initiative as the foundation, commits APEC economies to working inpidually and cooperatively to develop practical approaches to prevent, prepare for and mitigate the impact of avian influenza and a possible influenza pandemic.

APEC economies commit to enhancing cooperation with each other in the following key areas:

Multi-sectoral cooperation and coordination on avian and pandemic influenza

5. Ministers recognize that as the avian H5N1 influenza virus spreads across the world, there will be increased opportunities for the avian influenza virus to infect humans and possibly mutate into a virus with pandemic potential which is easily transmitted from human-to-human. Control of the disease in birds is therefore very important to reduce opportunities for human infection. Affected and at-risk APEC economies are increasing and sustaining coordination, cooperation and collaboration in veterinary and human health sectors; among relevant government agencies; and, between international, regional and local levels.

6. Recognizing the need for a high degree of coordination across veterinary and human health sectors, Ministers agree to take the following actions:

  • Enhance regional capacity for early detection, diagnosis and response by increasing cooperation between animal and human health laboratory and surveillance networks;
  • Increase the prompt reporting of avian and human cases and the sharing of biological specimens among bilateral and international veterinary and public health networks, consistent with international rules and established practices;
  • Foster through joint training, integrated investigation, quarantine and control of avian and human cases;
    Promote public-private partnership; and encourage the business sector to participate in and play a vigorous role in the prevention and control of avian influenza and preparedness for pandemic influenza;
  • Support efforts to monitor the H5N1 virus and to conduct relevant epidemiological studies, biomedical research for the development and production of vaccines and therapeutic drugs, and, to promote greater access to medicines in times of a pandemic;
  • Work with the FAO, the OIE, and the WHO to coordinate the development and implementation of practical, science-based biosecurity guidelines among economies, as appropriate.

Establishing best practices and common approaches to risk communications

7. Ministers understand that accurate and timely information is a key factor in successfully managing both avian outbreaks and a potential influenza pandemic. The purposeful and transparent process of sharing and exchanging information with citizens and key stakeholders will help decision-makers prepare the public to take appropriate action to prepare for a pandemic and know what to expect when a pandemic is declared. This exchange of information should not only occur between governments and their citizens, but also between economies and multilateral organizations and the global community. It is important for Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and other ministries, as appropriate, to cooperate on messages to effectively prevent or contain avian influenza in order to minimize human exposure. It is also important for these Ministries to establish a shared understanding and approach to risk communications before and during an influenza pandemic, in order to minimize serious illness, loss of life, and social and economic disruption.

8. Ministers agree to take the following actions:

  • Integrate risk communications as part of domestic and regional pandemic preparedness planning;
  • Contribute to the development of protocols for efficient and transparent information sharing among economies and international organizations in support of the International Health Regulations (IHRs) and recognizing OIE Codes;
  • Develop effective partnerships with the media and other key stakeholders for the exchange and dissemination of accurate and timely information that encourages appropriate public health and animal husbandry practices by inpiduals and communities to protect against infection;
  • Support joint communication efforts with public and private sectors in at-risk economies;
  • Support the development of regionally-based projects on risk communications, including training programs, to determine locally appropriate risk communications approaches;
  • Coordinate with appropriate UN agencies, as applicable, to ensure harmonization of messaging and activities.

Mitigating negative effects of avian influenza on agriculture and trade

9. Ministers recognize that it is now generally accepted that the H5N1 virus has become endemic in birds in parts of Asia. There have been direct economic costs related to the mass culling of poultry throughout the affected economies. These costs are borne both upstream and downstream in the poultry industry, affecting both independent farmers and the feed and grain industries as well as processing plants and wholesale exporters. Many economies will need to invest and will require financial and technical support in: human resources and infrastructure for veterinary and human health systems; implementing well-established disease control strategies such as culling, bio-security and movement controls; and, safe and effective vaccinations. There is concern about general and pre-emptive bans on poultry imports adopted in response to avian influenza, and in particular, import bans on poultry that do not distinguish between infected and non-infected economies. It is important that APEC economies commit to the application of science-based standards for international trade, in order to avoid unnecessary restrictions on trade in agricultural goods and services.

10. Ministers agree to take the following actions:

  • Conduct assessments on the impact of avian influenza mitigation and control and the consequences for agriculture;
  • Call for appropriate reform of those commercial poultry production systems with low to minimal biosecurity (e.g. live bird markets) to reduce the incidence of infection;
  • Promote the development of disease-free zones consistent with international standards;
  • Establish incentives to promote higher levels of biosecurity for transition poultry farming;
  • Promote adequate systems in each economy to encourage timely and complete reporting of disease and implementation of appropriate disease control measures;
  • Share reports on domestic measures to mitigate the negative effects of avian influenza to enhance efforts to control and interrupt transmission of H5N1 in poultry;
  • Implement tested interventions (e.g., surveillance, culling, and confirmation with international organizations such as the WHO , FAO and OIE) to reduce the burden of infection in poultry;
  • Carefully evaluate, document, and widely disseminate findings from these interventions, as well as from pilot interventions;
  • Encourage the coordination of business resumption protocols and trade and travel management practices that are based on the best available science, and are in accordance with recommendations from the relevant international standard-setting bodies and meet the WTO obligations.

Working with the private sector to help ensure continuity of business, trade and essential services

11. Ministers recognize that the continuity of business and essential services is vital to support the global economy and that a single public health incident can have a major impact on local economies. An influenza pandemic would have broad and potentially global economic, social, and security consequences including disruptions of essential services such as health and security; mass transportation; the service industry; and the travel and tourism sectors. Improved collaboration between small and medium sized businesses and large corporations (many that have in place business continuity plans) as well as with governments, will assist in sector-wide preparedness and response.

12. Ministers agree to take the following actions:

  • Welcome and support APEC Business Advisory Council's (ABAC) work in industry and business emergency planning and preparedness;
  • Urge that the public, private, and non-governmental sectors work cooperatively in ensuring that the continuity of business and essential services are part of domestic preparedness plans;
  • Support the development of information exchange on management of travelers to increase transparency and minimize risk to trade and travel;
  • Continue to support the development of protocols to facilitate the continuity of business (with particular attention paid to the needs of small and medium size enterprises and micro-enterprises), essential services, and trade during a pandemic;
  • Urge the APEC business community to take into consideration the highly interconnected nature of the APEC economies and the complexity of global trade when developing business continuity and economic impact plans.

Strengthening regional and international cooperation

13. Recent international conferences have highlighted the need for coordinated global response to avian and human pandemic influenza. Regional donor cooperation and coordination is critical to ensuring the most effective and efficient use of resources. At the international donors conference in Beijing in January 2006, $1.9 billion was pledged by countries and international agencies from around the world to support global avian and pandemic influenza prevention and response efforts. The APEC Action Plan has identified APEC efforts to address critical areas that complement and respond to the growing global consensus on avian and pandemic influenza coordination and preparedness efforts.

14. Ministers, recognizing the need for regional and inter-regional collaboration and donor coordination, agree to take the following actions:

  • Facilitate collaboration of donor economies and multilateral organizations in supporting implementation of the first four areas of the action plan, especially the sharing of information and data wherever possible and appropriate;
  • Share information on planned activities and the results of initiatives undertaken in order to draw lessons learned from the experiences in addressing the problem;
  • Pursue consistent approaches with international organizations and support existing global coordinating mechanisms;
  • Encourage facilitation of entry, such as pre-authorized visas and customs, of WHO rapid response teams requested by the host economy, and their necessary equipment to pandemic outbreak sites;
  • Align donor support with member economies' own strategies in the first four areas of the action plan;
  • Link with the major donors, such as World Bank and Asian Development Bank, to coordinate long term funding and planning efforts to agriculture business recovery.

15. Ministers instruct the Health Task Force to report to SOM in 2007 on the progress of implementing this Action Plan.