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IFC Conference Brings Together Egyptian Government and Private Sector to Discuss Co-Coordinated Response Strategy to Avian Influenza


In Cairo
Egidio Germanetti
Tel: 010 2508 717
Email: egermanetti@ifc.org


Cairo May 29, 2006— The International Finance Corporation (IFC) the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today convened a conference to discuss integrated responses to  Avian Influenza (AI) between the private and public sector.  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) several people have died in the country after exposure to diseased birds, and the poultry industry has been severely hit after thousands of poultry and birds were found to be infected by the H5N1 virus responsible for AI.

‘For some time now, IFC has been proactively monitoring its poultry portfolio for the AI threat.  We have been working with our  client companies on the implementation of biosecurity measures designed to minimize the risk of operations.  We also work with them to audit their AI protocols, review their contingency plans and individual risk assessments of the AI threat.  However, we are now looking beyond only risk management of IFC poultry projects and  are working more broadly to address the challenges faced by business and the general public.’  Said Macodou Ndaw,  IFC’s Associate Director of Agri-Business.

A key component of  IFC’s initiative is to bridge the knowledge gap between the government and all players in the industry, with a specific focus on the private sector.  By bringing all the stakeholders together, IFC hopes to create a platform to share valuable operational and commercial lessons, views on private-public sector partnerships, and implications for the public at large.

‘The responsibility of ensuring human health and the protection of our poultry industry is not government’s alone and so we truly welcome this opportunity to meet with other stakeholders and to  share collective experience and approaches.  In Egypt, we have  seen some level of success with the interventions we have implemented so far, particularly with regards to active surveillance of poultry at its source.  We hope that with the support of development agencies and the private sector we can have an even more integrated response to Avian Influenza in our country.”  Said Dr Amr Kandeel, Director of the National Infection Control program.

IFC aims to complement the work of other agencies and organizations working on responses to Avian Influenza by assisting commercial operations to specifically tackle prevention and preparedness as well as response and containment, through AI contingency plans.

“The World Bank Group has been extremely responsive to the needs of the Egyptian government.  Our poultry industry is worth about $ 3bn and employs approximately 1.5 million people and so it is imperative that we continue to urgently seek ways to resolve the issue of Avian Influenza.  We have recognized that one way to widen the work we have already began with our partners is to focus even more strongly on communication and co-operation between all stakeholders”, Said Ms Mona Mehrez- Aly, Head of the central laboratory in the Ministry of Agriculture.

About Avian Flu

Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The disease occurs worldwide. While all birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza viruses, many wild bird species carry these viruses with no apparent signs of harm.  Other bird species, including domestic poultry, develop disease when infected with avian influenza viruses.

The Ministry of Health in Egypt recently confirmed the country’s 14th case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The case occurred in a 75-year-old woman from the Al Minya governorate. She developed symptoms on 11 May and died on 18 May. As with all other cases in Egypt, her infection has been linked to exposure to diseased birds.  Of the 14 cases in Egypt, six have been fatal.

Socio- Economic Impacts

Once domestic birds are infected, avian influenza outbreaks can be difficult to control and often cause major economic impacts for poultry farmers in affected countries, since mortality rates are high and infected fowl generally must be destroyed -- the technical term is "culled" -- in order to prevent the spread of the disease.  The impact can be devastating to local economies and to both commercial poultry operations and industry.

 About IFC

The International Finance Corporation (IFC)  is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.  IFC coordinates its activities with the other institutions of the World Bank Group but is legally and financially independent. Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.

The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications.  For more information, visit www.ifc.org