(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director-General Ilan Cohen this morning (Monday, April 3, 2006) convened the Directors-General Forum on dealing with bird flu. Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Director-General Yossi Yishai, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Avi Yisraeli, Veterinary Services and Finance Ministry representatives, regional council chairmen, and poultry farmers’ representatives attended the meeting. 

Participants were briefed by representatives of all relevant bodies on – inter alia – work procedures of, and lessons gained from, the campaign against bird flu in order to be better prepared for possible future outbreaks. To this end, the directors-general agreed on formulating detailed work procedures:

  • Advance stage – A work procedure has been formulated on the equipping of government bodies, including communications with contractors and suppliers and intra-governmental coordination.
  • Identification and immediate action stage – Work procedures have been defined for immediate action upon the identification of the disease.  PMO Dir.-Gen. Cohen instructed that action timetables be stepped up and that emphasis be placed on quarantine and sterilization methods to prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Culling and sterilization stage: Culling and burial procedures have been refined.

The directors-general decided that, immediately upon the conclusion of all such events, a comprehensive review – including an epidemiological study – will be held in order to draw the necessary conclusions.

Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Dir.-Gen. Yishai said that farmers will soon be eligible to receive advances on the compensation due to them, as per the government’s commitment to them. A professional team is currently examining the issue of farmers’ indirect damages in order to assess them more accurately.

A conference of all relevant government bodies and officials will be held next Monday, April 10, in order to review the aforementioned work procedures and lessons. The conference is in continuation of the government’s cooperation with local authorities.

PMO Dir.-Gen. Cohen thanked all those concerned: "Despite the difficulties involved, the State of Israel dealt immediately and professionally with the first crisis and brought about its conclusion in a very short time in comparison to other countries, and minimized potential damage." 

Less than 2% of Israel’s poultry sector was adversely affected; in comparison with much higher proportions in various European countries. Neither was there any decrease in the supply of poultry to consumers.