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China Calls for Closer Int'l Cooperation to Meet Health Challenges

China on Tuesday called on the international community to strengthen cooperation in dealing with avian influenza and other global health threats.


"Governments and peoples of all countries should be more closely united, highly value international health security, and jointly contribute to the defense against diseases," Chinese Health Minister Gao Qiang told the ongoing 60th annual assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO).


Addressing all 193 member states of the UN agency, Gao said the epidemic of avian influenza is spreading and human infected cases are increasing. Apart from pandemic influenza, human beings are also faced with the threat of serious infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, Hepatitis, malaria, etc.


China hopes that "governments of all countries and the international community can join their efforts and make greater contributions to the control of major diseases in the world," he said.


According to Gao, one crucial move for protecting international health security is to implement the WHO's revised International Health Regulations (IHR).


The regulations, which will come into force on June 15, are considered as the world's first legally binding agreement in the fight against public health emergencies of international concern such as those caused by new and re-emerging diseases with potentials of becoming an epidemic.


"It is our wish that through the implementation of the IHR and friendly cooperation among all countries, a working mechanism will be established globally to effectively respond to pandemic influenza," Gao said.


Gao also stressed the WHO's guiding role in global public health affairs, saying such a role should be brought into full play.


"We believe that WHO should play a bigger role in the international public health fields, and governments of all countries should be more supportive of WHO's work," he said.


Gao also called on WHO and developed countries to strengthen support for the development of public health systems in developing countries.


"Diseases respect no borders ... In order to safeguard global health security, WHO and the developed countries should help developing countries, especially African countries, to establish and improve disease surveillance network and enhance disease prevention and control capacity," he said.


(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2007)

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