Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is pleased to announce its support of the Asia Research Partnership on Pandemic Influenza (“the Partnership”). Pandemic experts, scientists and Asian national granting councils will meet in Beijing, China, on April 24-26 to formalize the Partnership. They will also discuss what research and skills needed to be developed, and the information and coordination gaps that must be addressed to control the spread of avian influenza and other emerging infectious disease.
IDRC is committing CA$1 million to the first two projects developed by the Partnership – a multi-country Asian study on the efficacy of animal vaccination programs and policies, and a grants competition for research on social and environmental linkages. Both projects will be launched at the Beijing meeting. IDRC will commit another CA$1 million to the Partnership over the next two years. This will be matched by national research councils and health authorities in Canada, China, Thailand and Vietnam for supporting a series of research studies, peer exchanges, networking, short- and medium-term capacity building, and information-sharing activities.
“This Partnership presents an uncommon opportunity to build joint work among the health and science granting councils in the various countries,” says Dr Stephen McGurk, IDRC Regional Director for Southeast and East Asia. “Fighting avian influenza is a high priority in the region as well as an issue around which regional cooperation and coordination is critical.”
Partners include the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the Natural Science Foundation of China; the Health Systems Research Institute and Ministry of Public Health, Thailand; the National Research Council of Thailand; the Ministry of Science and Technology, Vietnam; the Ministry of Health, Indonesia; and the Ministry of Health, Cambodia, among others. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada join IDRC as Canadian partners.
The Partnership will address several key policy and research issues identified in a previous meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, in December 2005. These include the systems and policy linkages between environmental factors, production and marketing systems and animal and human health as well as the economic factors associated with the spread of epidemics. Understanding these issues is critical to the development of national preparedness strategies, including, for instance, how to formulate and implement protocols for the quarantine and culling of poultry, compensation to farmers, and trade in birds and poultry.
Participants to the Beijing meeting will include Dr George Gao from the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing; Dr Siriwat Tiptaradol from the Health Systems Research Institute, Thailand, and Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert from the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand. Senior officials from the World Health Organization, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and other international agencies have also been invited.