|New Zealand has pledged $850,000 of aid
money to help China fight the potentially fatal disease, Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
At the same time a further $300,000 of NZAID funding will help Pacific
Island countries prepare in the event of a SARS case reaching the
NZAID is the semi-autonomous agency within the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade responsible for New Zealandís international aid
"China is battling a major disease and anything we can do to help
stop the spread of SARS is in everybody's interest," Aid Minister
Marian Hobbs said.
New Zealand's contribution in China will go towards technical assistance
in provinces with large numbers of reported SARS cases, and to
provinces who have so far reported only a small number of cases, but
need to establish how prepared they are if the situation gets worse.
New Zealand funding will also go towards an international
collaborative network to research the new disease.
$700,000 of the allocated money for China will be channeled through
the World Health Organisation, which is co-ordinating the response to
SARS in China. The other $150,000 will go to the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which is
working with the Chinese Red Cross in China.
"So far in our own region, no Pacific Island countries are known
to be affected by SARS, but we need to make sure they're prepared
should cases occur. There's a lot of movement between New Zealand and
other Pacific countries and we canít afford to take any risks,"
Marian Hobbs said.
NZAID funding in the Pacific will go to the SARS Task Force, jointly
staffed by World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Secretariat for the
Pacific Community (SPC).
"This gives us an opportunity to establish protocols, training,
and management techniques in the Pacific about how to control other
infectious diseases too," Marian Hobbs said. "These systems
will still be in place after the SARS crisis has passed."