Pakistan ends avian influenza program

The government of Pakistan recently decided to cease its National Program for the Control and Prevention of Avian Influenza.

The decision runs counter to the advice of the national bird flu steering committee and the Federal Planning and Development Division, according to

The bird flu steering committee urged the government to continue the program under federal auspices because it believes provincial governments do not have the capabilities continue the program or to support independent bird flu control measures.

The Federal Planning and Development Division supports the program being run under the federal government because of its sensitivity and importance to the nation, according to

The program was recently lauded by the World Organization for Animal Health, which recently declared that Pakistan has been free of the bird flu for a period of three months.

Advisor to the Prime Minister for the Development Budget Muhammad Asif Shaikh issued the order dismissing the program. Shaikh also chaired the Federal Planning and Development Division meeting that supported the program’s continuance, reports.

Experts are concerned that Pakistan will not be able to prevent the spread of bird flu without a functioning control program at the national level, and that the county will have to bear critical financial and health care costs in the future because of the decision.