Asia Unites Against Swine Flu Threat

Health ministers from 13 countries pledge increased cooperation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2009 1:32 AM CDT
Tourists from Japan, wearing masks as a precaution against the swine flu, wait at the arrival hall of Beijing Capital International Airport.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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(Newser) – Health chiefs from 13 Asian countries met in Bangkok yesterday to hammer out a unified response to the H1N1 virus, Reuters reports. The ministers pledged to step up cross-border cooperation, establish joint response teams, and share essential supplies. A statement called for Asia to establish the capacity to produce vaccines, which are primarily made in Europe and North America.

Relatively few cases of the flu have emerged in the region, but Asian governments, mindful of the damage caused by SARS and bird flu, are taking no chances. A World Health Organization official at the meeting said it was important to be vigilant, but warned ministers to "refrain from introducing economically and socially destructive measures that lack solid scientific backing."