STATEMENT BY THE TURKISH DELEGATION ON AVIAN FLU AT THE UNICEF EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING

-- 19.01.2006
Thank you Mr. President,

My delegation is pleased that the Board decided to take up the Avian Flu issue under agenda Item 14. We would like to express our appreciation for the very valuable information provided to the Board by the experts.

Mr. President, if you allow me, I would like to give brief updated information as to the situation in Turkey which was affected by this virus.

Turkey is on the main routes of wild migratory birds. Turkey experienced the first outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in poultry in 25 October 2005 which occurred in the northwestern part of the country, but no human cases were seen. The situation had been controlled with rapid appropriate measures.

Since 27 December 2005, there have been new cases in different regions of Turkey and necessary measures have been taken immediately. 21 people from different cities have been identified as Avian influenza positive until now, and four of them have unfortunately lost their lives so far.

Since the second outbreak, we have been implementing the Revised Pandemic Plan for Avian Influenza all over the country. Joint meetings are being held with the EU, ECDC, WHO, FAO, OIE in order to review the existing situation and the measures to be taken. We have been sharing all the data and information with relevant international organizations and institutions in a transparent manner.

To date, all evidence indicates that patients have acquired their infections following close contact with infected poultry. Our investigations have found no evidence that the virus is spreading from person to person. Many of the infected persons under investigation are unfortunately children, often from the same family and almost all have a documented contact to dead or infected poultry.

In suspected cases, quarantine measures were taken. In positive cases the poultry in the protection zones of 3 kilometers were destroyed and the poultry in the observation zone of a 7 kilometers radius are being screened.

Clinical and serological surveillance is underway in the observation zones.

The transportation of all kinds of poultry in Turkey is prohibited until a second announcement. All roads to and from affected regions are strictly controlled and vehicles are being disinfected. A hunt prohibition for all winged animals is in force all over the country.

In order to break the chain of transmission in the line of wild birds, domestic birds (backyard poultry) and human beings, almost 800.000 domestic birds have been destructed until now, and their owners were compensated.

The sale of all live backyard poultry species in local markets has been prohibited. The press is regularly informed, so that public awareness is being raised and training programmes are being conducted particularly in risk prone provinces. The infected districts have been placed under quarantine; no animals are allowed to move in or out of the provinces.

WHO and other relevant institutions have not issued any movement restrictions for traveling to Turkey. They announced that our government has so far taken very intensive measures in mitigating this disease.

Struggling with Avian Influenza requires coordinated national and international efforts and an effective Pandemic Plan. Capacity building is also very important element in struggling with outbreaks.

Due to lack of public awareness about avian influenza, danger may continue to grow throughout the world. We believe that the international organizations, such as FAO and World Bank, should allocate more funds for the swift implementation of projects in this field and more technical and financial support should be directed to the countries at immediate risk.

As the public awareness and transparency as well as effective coordination at the global level are the key elements in mitigating this disease, we will continue to closely cooperate with the relevant international organizations and institutions and to share our data and information with them.

Thank you Mr. President.