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World Health Organization Urges Rich Nations to Help Stem Spread of H1N1


The United Nations will be asking wealthy countries and global development banks to donate $1.5 billion to help developing countries fight the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as swine flu.

The money is needed for vaccines and drugs to help poor countries cope with the pandemic flu, says a U.N. report that was released in advance of the meeting.

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan will meet world leaders in New York on Thursday to review the needs of lower-income countries facing the new pandemic. The WHO has called for β€œan urgent response to the new flu strain from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.”

Health Minister Henry Madzorera told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such assistance will greatly help Zimbabwe and other countries in similar straits.

Meanwhile, in Washington today a spokesman for the U.S National Centers for Health said the flu has been under-reported in many countries. Dan Rutz advised deferring unnecessary travel to affected areas and minimizing contact with those infected with H1N1 to the extent possible.

Symptoms of H1N1 include difficulties in breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe vomiting and flu-like symptoms.

Rutz listed basic precautions including washing hands, keeping hands away from one's eyes, nose and mouth to minimize risk of infection, and staying home from work when ill with suspected H1N1.

Rutz voiced regret that the pig industry has been adversely - and unfairly affected - by the public health scare. The public information specialist said H1N1 is not contracted through eating pork - though he noted that pork in general should always be cooked thoroughly before it is eaten.

Rutz said illness and deaths related to H1N1 will continue to occur, but added that so far the pandemic has been less deadly than was initially feared when it first surfaced in Mexico.

He said the availability of a vaccine in countries like the United States and other developed nations would greatly help stem the spread of the disease - though vaccine for now is in short supply.

Rutz told journalists in a briefing at the Voice of America that in Sub-Saharan Africa the best course for health authorities for the moment is to monitor outbreaks to stay ahead of the pandemic.

Elsewhere, after all but closing its doors for more than a year, The Center, a pioneering Harare facility for HIV/AIDS counseling and support founded by the late Lyndie Francis, recently reopened to the great satisfaction of members of the Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS community, as Sylvia Manika reported.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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