US sees Avian flu role for Malaysia

Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/6/7/nation/14459375&sec=nation

Wednesday June 7, 2006

US sees Avian flu role for Malaysia

By JOHAN FERNANDEZ

WASHINGTON: The United States wants Malaysia to play a leading regional role to deal with the avian flu following the recent outbreak of cases that killed seven people in Sumatra.

US Department of Health and Human Services deputy secretary Alex Azar relayed the message to Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, who briefed him on Malaysias preparations to counter the avian flu threat.

The Health Minister was here on Monday after attending the high-level meeting and review of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS at the United Nations in New York.

Dr Chua said the United States was impressed with Malaysias plans and preparations and felt that this experience could be of good use to the region.

He added that the United States was concerned over the outbreak of the disease in Asian countries, particularly Indonesia.

Dr Chua said he had also briefed all foreign ambassadors in Malaysia on the countrys preparations.

We have ample supplies of the anti-bird flu drug Tamiflu, vaccines, protective gear and whatever is needed to deal with an outbreak, he said.

The minister visited the National Institute of Healths vaccine and cancer centre, which had expressed its keenness to collaborate with Malaysia on research on nasopharynx casinoma (tongue cancer), which was common among Chinese and Indians.

We have done a fair amount of research in this field and they are keen to work with us in this area, he said.

Dr Chua said Malaysias Institute for Medical Research (IMR), once a premier medical research facility, was willing to work with the United States to do research on tropical diseases.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wants to revive the IMR and make it a leading research centre for tropical diseases.

The IMR has done a lot of research on diseases like malaria, scrub typhus, filariasis and beri-beri and such a collaboration with the US can advance research and treatment in these and other tropical diseases, Dr Chua said.

He leaves for Boston tomorrow where he will visit the Harvard Centre for Cancer Prevention and the Maharisi Vedic Medical Centre for Holistic Medicine before flying to Toronto.