WHO Flu Center to Be Set in China
    2011-03-15 09:45:07     China Daily      Web Editor: Zhang
 
The National Influenza Center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been designated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, making China the first developing country to house such an institution.

Under the coordination of the World Health Organization, the center in China is now to join four others - those in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States - in monitoring, researching and responding to outbreaks of influenza, as well as making plans to combat pandemics.

"This designation reflects the country's exceptional contribution to the global fight against influenza," said Dr Shin Young-soo, World Health Organization regional director for the Western Pacific, speaking in Beijing on Monday at a ceremony to celebrate the designation.

Chen Zhu, Chinese minister of health, said at the same event: "It's an honor for China and a great responsibility as well."

Just as the other four centers for reference and research on influenza in the world are responsible for providing training to medical personnel from other countries and regions and for issuing timely information on flu outbreaks, so will be the Chinese institution, said Shu Yuelong, who heads the center.

The work promises to be good not only for the world in general but China in particular.

"China will also benefit a lot from the designation," Shu told China Daily on Monday.

"Unlike before, we can now get firsthand information from other collaborating centers on global influenza surveillance and studies, which will help us better shape our responses to the disease," he said.

"This will also help the homegrown flu-vaccine industry tap the global market."

The centers together now make recommendations twice a year concerning the compositions of vaccines to be used during particular seasons. They also warn the public when an influenza strain with the potential of becoming a pandemic has been detected.

Shu said the centers are cooperating with agencies like the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration to draft standards meant to control the quality of seed virus strains provided to other countries for the manufacture of flu vaccines.

By housing a center for reference and research on influenza, China has made progress toward its goal.

"China's domestic flu surveillance capacity will be substantially strengthened with China joining the (World Health Organization's) influenza collaborating centers, which are centers of excellence in the global influenza surveillance network," Shu noted.

China now monitors flu cases in all of its large cities and in some counties on the mainland.
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