Pakistan declared free from bird flu

Sunday, April 19, 2009
By By Mumtaz Alvi
ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Pakistan free from bird flu.

A senior official at the Ministry of Health expressed these views while talking to The News here on Saturday. He said: “This pleasant development has elevated the profile of Pakistan from the viewpoint of health in the international community.” He pointed out that the WHO declaration was a much-needed relief to the sick poultry industry in Pakistan. As the first very encouraging move, Saudi Arabia had lifted a ban on import of poultry products from Pakistan, he said.

From now on, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry would be importing fresh, frozen and chilled poultry meat, eggs and their products, he said.

The government had issued directives to the departments concerned to ensure strict compliance with the health conditions, technical regulations and approved standards of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the future, he said.

He said that during the last 10 months, not even a single case of bird flu had been reported, which, of course, was a very encouraging sign at a time when the poultry industry was facing a crisis. He, however, said there was a possibility of some migratory birds bringing with them bird flu virus for which adequate measures, including surveillance, would remain in place.

The per capita poultry meat production stood at only 7 kg as compared with 41 kg in the developed countries, an official at the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock said. He added that the annual consumption of eggs, at 60-65 per head, was way below the average for developed markets, which stood at over 300, meaning there was still great scope for the home market to increase its consumption levels.