Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Malaysia to host WHO meeting on SARS


KUALA LUMPUR: More than 1,000 scientists from all over the world will meet in Malaysia next month for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Scientific Meeting on SARS.
Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said the meeting was supposed to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, but its Western Pacific regional director Dr Shigeru Omi informed him yesterday that WHO had decided to hold the meeting here.
“This is a first time the country is hosting such an event and it is a great honour for Malaysia.
“Local scientists will be able to share their experiences with others on a global scale,” he told reporters at the ministry’s SARS briefing yesterday.
WHO regional representative Dr Joel Vanderburg said Malaysia, which was not a SARS-affected country, had been selected as it had adopted good control measures in managing the outbreak.
“It is an obvious choice as Malaysia’s stringent measures to contain SARS will reassure healthcare professionals travelling here for the two-day meeting,” he said.
Dr Vanderburg said it made sense to hold the June 17-18 meeting here in a region where many countries were affected by SARS and where many healthcare personnel would have first-hand experience in dealing with the deadly virus.
“They have the experience in dealing with the virus and will be able to share their work with their colleagues,” he added.
The meeting will address all scientific matters related to SARS. It will also review epidemiological, clinical management and laboratory findings on SARS and discuss global control strategies.
WHO director-general Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland will attend the meeting.
Chua will also be attending the 56th World Health Assembly in Geneva, which begins on Monday, to participate in discussions on international public health issues, including SARS.