U.N. Unveils Plan Against Bird Flu

Chickens wait to be sold at a market in Beijing Monday, Jan. 26, 2004. China banned all poultry from Thailand and Cambodia on Sunday, after earlier banning birds from Japan, South Korea and Vietnam in an effort to protect the country from the bird flu which has struck Asian nations.
A team of U.N. experts unveiled a master plan to fight bird flu Wednesday, calling for educating backyard farmers and vaccinating poultry to prevent the disease from becoming a human pandemic.

The job is hard, "but we are not powerless," Dr. Shigeru Omi of the World Health Organization said at the end of a three-day meeting of animal, health and food experts.

The plan "gives us a real chance to make a mark on history as long as we work together with maximum energy and commitment," Omi said in a statement.

The conference was organized by WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health.

Since 2003, tens of million of chickens have died of bird flu or have been slaughtered in East and Southeast Asia. At least 54 people also died in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, most after coming into contact with infected birds.

The U.N. plan focuses on educating small-time farmers and their families about the risk of combining various species such as chickens, ducks and pigs in one enclosure.