27 October 2006. Kyiv. The first global initiative on avian influenza for private sector representatives, aiming to raise their awareness on the issue and consider the impact of AI outbreaks on business operations was conducted in Kyiv. b_89_59_16777215_00_images_content_news_800.jpg 27 October 2006. Kyiv. The first global initiative on avian influenza for private sector representatives, aiming to raise their awareness on the issue and consider the impact of AI outbreaks on business operations was conducted in Kyiv.
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Kyiv, Ukraine – first global initiative on avian influenza for private sector representatives, aiming to raise awareness on the issue and consider the impact of AI outbreaks on business operations.

The Avian Influenza Forum for Private Sector was held on 27 October 2006. The event was organized by the United Nations for the purpose of providing senior business leaders in Ukraine with an informative meeting aiming to raise awareness and consider the impacts of future outbreaks on business operations. Senior international experts both from the private and public sector provided the business leaders with the most current information on AI and shared the experience of businesses in countries in crisis.


The key speakers at the Forum were Mr. Francis M. O’DONNELL, UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine; Mr. Serhiy BEREZHNOV, First Deputy Minister of Health, Chief Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine; Mr. Jeremy Hartley, UNICEF Representative to Ukraine; Brad HERBERT, Head of “Brad Herbert Associate”; Mr. Alfredo WITSCHI-CESTARI, UN Avian Influenza Advisor; Ms. Ruken TEKES-CALIKUSU, UN Coordination Specialist, Mr. Igor POKANEVYCH, Representative of WHO in Ukraine; Mr. Blane LOWE, DVM, Ph.D, Pfizer Corporation (USA); Ms. Anna MIKULITSKAYA, Citibank (Ukraine); Ms. Maria ZUBOK, Cargill Enterprises (Ukraine).


“Avian influenza and the human influenza pandemic threat are global challenges. Governments and business organizations need to work together to improve their ability to manage a possible avian flu pandemic” said Francis M. O’DONNELL, UN Resident Coordinator. “The UN is working to help structure a global response and in Ukraine UN stands ready to support the country’s efforts in handling the AI preparedness and response activities”

Mr. Serhiy BEREZHNOV welcomed the involvement of the global community and reassured the attendees that the government has been very active on this issue. Mr Berezhnov spoke at some length on the expertise in the Veterinary Medical segment in Ukraine and noted the need to improve the diagnostic infrastructure in the Human health arena.

“There is a need to an emergency and contingency response to AI, however there is also a need to develop a long term sustainable approach---this disease is likely to be with us for the next five to ten years and we need to ensure that we integrate preparedness, surveillance, containment, and treatment into a longer term development program Ukraine should be congratulated on its emergency response, however, in my view much more needs to be done to move towards a longer term and sustainable plan” explained Mr. Brad HERBERT, International expert and the Managing Director of “Brad Herbert Associates”. He stressed that public and private investment is needed to support these sustainable efforts and added that “Having just completed a review of ten countries, I am certain that this meeting is representative of a “best practice” that others may wish to follow”.

Representatives from private sector multi-national corporations, operating in Ukraine: Cargill, Citibank and Pfizer Inc presented highlights of their organizations planning and contingency activities to date.

Ms. Anna MIKULITSKAYA, Vice-President of the Citibank (Ukraine) gave a comprehensive overview of the current Citigroup’s Strategy, which includes regional and global task force, consistent Citigroup policies and pandemic action plan, communications strategy both internal (education and monitoring) and external, human resource policies, business continuity including long term activation of contingency and recovery plans and crisis management including triggers and alert levels, etc. “Citigroup in Ukraine is the pilot company in terms of development AI preparedness tools and we are ready to share our experience with other businesses in Ukraine”, she said.

Blane Lowe, DVM, Ph.D, Pfizer Corporation (USA) indicated that the company’s primary focus in planning and preparation is the health and safety of their employees. It was mentioned that we are the first generation to have the ability to plan for a pandemic. He also detailed many of the complexities faced by large organizations. This complex nature demands a substantial investment of time to ensure that the contingency and business continuity plans will achieve their intended objectives. “ It is important that we face this threat informed, rather than in fear”.

Ms. Maria ZUBOK, Cargill Enterprises (Ukraine) spoke about the processes that her company has implemented to protect their people and their products. Cargill produces feeds for poultry, so any negative impacts on poultry production will be damaging to the financial well being of Cargill. Ms Zubok expressed a strong willingness by her company to work cooperatively with other businesses and organizations to mitigate the impact of AI on the Ukrainian economy.

These overviews gave the Ukrainian Business leaders in attendance a valuable insight into the time and effort involved in creating sound and comprehensive contingency plans for the company’s employees as well as business continuity plans. Each of these representatives pointed out the great need to protect their people first and their business second. Combating a deadly disease will require most organizations and countries to have their own systems in place to protect their people and enterprises.

The continuing global spread of Avian Influenza (AI) threatens to create a world-wide health crisis – Pandemic Flu - that was only encountered three times in the last century. The AI is now spreading at an increasing rate as evidenced by number of new countries infected over the past year. To date 53 countries have encountered H5N1 infections and 41 of these are new occurrences in 2006. Now the virus is found not only in Asia but in Europe and Africa. In terms of AI outbreaks Ukraine ranks 9th in the world. Three of our neighbors: Turkey, Romania and Russia rank 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.

Experts have predicted that in the event of pandemic flu, one third of the workforce could be absent, supply lines would be disrupted and demand for products limited. Routine business activities would be constrained on many different fronts. In a number of countries, the private sector has urgently prepared or is preparing contingency plans to minimize the impact of such a crisis on their businesses.

· Cooperation in three key areas - governance, awareness, and advocacy:

Ø On governance, the private sector needs to be a member of the national coordination council;

Ø On awareness, the private sector should be using its marketing skills to better educate the public;

Ø On advocacy, it is appropriate that the private sector enter the political arena;

· Using an opportunity to modernize and up-grade the poultry industry, including process plants, cold storage, and distribution and marketing;

· Using its marketing skills to better informal the public. This can either be viewed as a public service or as a smart business decision.

In order to identify the types of activities and investment required a comprehensive national plan needs to be developed in full consultations with all stakeholders. “Shopping list” and “issues papers” are not sufficient to gain the full support.

Following the Forum a training/workshop on AI business contingency planning and a simulation exercise will be organized to provide the private sector leaders with a set of tools necessary to develop and, should the need arise, execute the emergency business plans.

The animal to animal transmission, animal to human transmission as well as human to human transmission of the virus is now evident in a number of countries. With the advances in science and medicine, we are the first generation to have the opportunity to plan and prepare for such occurrences.

To learn more on avian influenza response in Ukraine, please visit the following web-page.

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To get more information, please contact Ms. Yaryna Basystyuk, AI Coordinator, e-mail: yaryna.basystyuk@undp.org , tel. +380 44 253-93-63 or Ms. Veronika Vashchenko, Communications Officer, tel. +380 44 254-00-35, e-mail: veronika.vashchenko@undp.org .