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IRCS hosts meet on Bird Flu
January 18th, 2008

A National Level Advocacy Meeting on Public Health in Emergencies including Bird Flu, was held at the Disaster Management Centre of the National Headquarters on January 17th, 2008. It was attended by the Secretaries alongwith the focal officers for the project from four chosen States namely Maharashtra, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana. Other members included Representatives from International Federation, German Red Cross, American Red Cross and senior officials from IRCS.

The objective of the meeting was to empower volunteers and vulnerable communities by enhancing their knowledge to bring about behavioural change thereby reducing morbidity and mortality.

Formally opening the meeting, Mrs. Homai N. Modi, Managing Body Member and Honorary Secretary, Maharashtra State Branch said that the threats of the public health in emergencies see no border of caste, creed, gender, nationality and religion. She further informed that IRCS has been actively responding to PHIE like Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS or Tuberculosis through its preparedness and response activities.

Dr. R.L. Icchpujani, Additional Director, NICD in his speech said that according to WHO Phases of Pandemic we are in the Phase 3 of the pandemic Alert Period i.e. Human infection with novel virus; with no instances of human-to-human spread. He then said that Red Cross can play a crucial role in assisting and thereby containing the pandemic. This can happen by educating the community about do's and dont's, sensitizing human as well as animal health workers on steps to prevent Avian Flu, identification of suspected cases by volunteers and appropriate referral to hospital/dispensaries, trace the cases and alert the concerned community and authorities, to introduce non -pharmaceutical interventions and to provide psycho-social relief to the families of infected persons.

Dr. Sunil Behl, Deputy Project Manager, NPSU Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Dr. L.S. Chauhan, DDG, TB, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India also joined the meeting and shared their valuable inputs with the participants. They emphasized the role of IRCS volunteers in assisting implementation of Programme under national guidelines.

Presently the National Headquarters of IRCS is closely monitoring the situation in West Bengal. Mr. Binoy Prasad Roy, Honorary Secretary of the branch informed over phone that the branch has already distributed the IEC material on Avian Flu in Bengali in all the Districts, which he had received from the National Headquarters. After the confirmed Bird Flu outbreak, he had telephonic conversation with the District Secretaries of Birbhum, South Dinajpur, Maldah and Mushidabad and is closely following the development.

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