APEC Ministerial Meeting on Avian and Influenza Pandemics
Da Nang, Viet Nam, 04 May 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, on behalf of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, I would like to warmly welcome you all to the APEC Ministerial Meeting on Avian and Influenza Pandemics in this beautiful city after you have traveled such a long way.
It is not by accident that Da Nang was chosen to be the venue for one of the most important events of the APEC Year 2006. This city lies on the rim of the Pacific Ocean - the ocean that links our APEC member economies together. Da Nang is also located right in the centre of Viet Nam, very close to the three UNESCO-recognized World Cultural Heritages, where we can see the convergence of the cultural identities of all Vietnamese regions. The city in the past was known as a big military base but is now changing everyday, a reflection of a new Viet Nam being reformed and vigorously developed. The city is also popular for its recent success in avian influenza prevention and control. On that note, we hope that you will use this chance to explore the history, beauty, culture and socio-economic achievements of the city and its adjacent areas as a miniature of Viet Nam.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are living in an increasingly globalized world which presents us not only vast opportunities for development and cooperation but also formidable challenges, one of which is the sudden outbreak of avian influenza. Nowadays, the epidemic has quickly spread from Asia to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and is likely to hit America. In face of such a global threat, an effective prevention and control can never be achieved without global cooperation.
Fully aware of that, last year in Busan, APEC Leaders adopted the APEC Initiative on Preparing for and Mitigating an Influenza Pandemic with 11 identified areas of cooperation. It is now time for us to formulate an Action Plan to translate this important initiative into reality. I am convinced that with your vast knowledge and experience, a concise and practical Plan of Action will be developed. And this will be a new step forward in APEC cooperation for the well-being of our peoples.
As the host, Viet Nam will do its best to make the Meeting successful. Additionally, being one of the countries most affected by Avian Influenza, Viet Nam has achieved certain successes in containing this disease and drawn some useful lessons.
It is our view that the decisive factor in preventing and combating the pandemic is to raise public awareness of its dangers and preventive measures. To this end, right from beginning, we focus our efforts on providing information for the public about the pandemic and concurrently involving the entire political system, such as government agencies, mass organizations and the media. "Prevention is better than cure" and that is our policy. Accordingly, a nationwide vaccination campaign has been launched in parallel with resolute measures to cull a huge number of poultry, both infected and high-risk herds. To minimize negative impacts on farmers, the whole economy and people's life, despite financial constraints, the Government decided to provide financial support for farmers and encouraged them to move to aquaculture and large animal production as substitute farming.
In this process, international cooperation is an indispensable factor. I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Vietnamese government, to sincerely thank friendly countries, international organizations, especially WHO, FAO and WOAH (OIE) for their heart-felt cooperation and support.
At present, although the avian influenza epidemic has been pushed back, the danger of recurrence is still there. We therefore look forward to enhancing cooperation with APEC economies to not only roll back but also wipe out the epidemic, especially to prevent the transmission from human to human. Among APEC members, some are highly developed both technologically and economically. Therefore, we hope that those economies will support the developing members to have an easier and more affordable access to knowledge and instruments for avian influenza prevention as well as to strengthen cooperation in scientific research to ensure a more sustainable prevention.
With that in mind, I wish you every success and believe that our Meeting will live up to expectations of our Leaders and peoples.
Finally, may I wish you all good health and a pleasant stay in Da Nang.