Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pact aims to stamp out H5N1

Pact aims to stamp out H5N1

Pact aims to stamp out H5N1


Govt signs agreement with Vietnam to monitor animal cargo at border in effort to curb the spread of the virus and boost livestock trade, officials say

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A new MoU to regulate the transport of live animals and birds – like the ducks pictured above – has been signed.

CAMBODIAN and Vietnamese government officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week to inspect all animal cargo crossing their shared border, said a local government official three weeks after the eighth reported human case of bird flu struck the Kingdom. 

A 19-year-old man in Kandal province was infected with the H5N1 virus last December. It was the only confirmed infection in the country last year, and was nonfatal - unlike the seven prior cases diagnosed in Cambodia.

The agreement, signed by the agriculture ministries of Cambodia and Vietnam on December 29, stipulates the construction of 11 inspection facilities along the border to separate the flow of animal cargo and humans, who primarily contract bird flu through contact with nasal secretions, saliva or faeces from an infected bird.

Kao Phal, director of the Animal Health and Production Department, said the ministry also requested training in veterinary expertise and the laboratory research required to detect the deadly virus. H5N1 has claimed nearly 250 lives around the globe since 2003, according to the World Health Organisation.

"The agreement will help curb the disease from spreading from animal to animal and from animals to people," Kao Phal said.

Regulations to boost trade

Sok Sina, an independent economist, said the agreement would improve livelihoods on both sides of the border by cutting down on the virus's threat to humans and the animals they rely on for food and business. 

Such enhanced regulations will "boost Cambodian entrepreneurialism in produce", he added.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said more than US$900 million worth of goods were traded between the countries in the first 11 months of last year, adding that he hoped annual totals would climb to $2 billion by 2010. 

A number of programs to educate rural Cambodians about the deadly virus have been launched in recent years, including the "market forums" started last year by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation and the Agriculture Ministry to educate poultry vendors on good sanitation practises.