The Vietnam-United Nations Joint Programme on avian influenza has made an important contribution to controlling the virus and reducing risks to human health in Vietnam , a meeting heard on Oct.7.

The 25 million USD project, which began in 2005, has provided an effective mechanism for emergency response to avian influenza and reduced the number of both human cases and disease outbreaks in poultry.

Specifically, the programme has provided technical support to the national poultry vaccination programme and post-vaccination surveillance; strengthened the legal framework for responding to avian influenza and similar threats; and improved the capacity of medical doctors, health officials and veterinarians.

The programme also targeted efforts to help poultry farmers and traders reduce the risk of infection among humans and bring the virus under control in birds.

Eamonn Murphy, acting UN Resident Co-ordinator said that the programme provided a model for UN and national agencies to discuss disease threats from animals to humans and other complex issues.

Bui Ba Bong, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development strongly affirmed Vietnam 's commitment to respond to avian influenza and address the risks of disease.

He expressed his wish to continue working with the UN to ensure the health of the Vietnamese people and contribute to regional and global efforts.

Co-operation between Vietnam and the UN on the threat of avian influenza and other diseases from animals to humans is expected to continue during the 2012-16 period.

Vietnam is the second most hit country in the world from the bird flu virus with over 100 human infections and 53 deaths.

Vietnam 's first outbreak of avian influenza occurred in late 2003. In April 2004, the disease quickly spread through 57 out of 63 provinces and 24 percent of all communes reported outbreaks of the disease.

The outbreaks resulted in 52 million birds culled, which stagnated poultry production, disrupted trade, and seriously affected the tourism sector and the livelihoods of many rural poor households. /.