Christian Medical & Dental Association Supports Bush's $7.1 Billion Bird Flu Plan

The nation’s largest faith-based organization of doctors voiced its support of President Bush’s $7.1 billion bird flu strategy.

Last Tuesday, President Bush announced his multi-billion dollar plan to prepare for the next influenza pandemic, which experts fear could be triggered by the current Asian bird flu. The strategy is calling for early detection and containment of the virus before it reaches the United States and increasing the rate of production of vaccines as the plan’s highest priorities.

In response to Bush’s plan, the Christian Medical & Dental Association (CMDA) compared the multi-phase strategy to military tactics and acknowledged the need for a plan in advance of the next influenza epidemic.

“When you're fighting a war, you have to have a rapid response," said Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the CMDA, to AgapePress. "Then you call up your reserves, and then you increase your production and recruitment. You kind of respond in waves and that's very similar to what the president has done in this war against avian flu."

"We've had three major pan-epidemics in this country," Stevens continued. "All three of them in the last century have come from birds, and the earliest one in 1918 actually killed over half a million people in this country and 20 million people around the world."

The virus is currently strongest in South-East Asia yet has spread to Europe where experts fear that the disease will be carried to Africa through migratory birds reported the Australia-based Age newspaper. Vietnam, the country hit hardest by the virus, has a total of 92 infected people and 42 deaths since December 2003 due to the bird flu. The Agricultural minister in Vietnam reported that last week 134,000 ducks, chickens and geese were killed to stop the spreading of the virus according to Reuters.

The bird flu virus has caused worldwide concern because experts worry that the easy-to-mutate influenza virus will change into a form transferable between people and cause a pandemic – which has occurred three times in the last century and caused millions of deaths.

As a pre-emptive strategy, the Bush administration has formed the new Pandemic Influenza Plan in case the bird flu reaches the United States.

"Every nation, every state in this union and every community in these states must be ready," Bush said in a statement.

The president’s plan requires stockpiling vaccines including anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza for initial treatment of 44 million most-vulnerable people and having states buy the other 31 million vaccines.

Though it has received support from groups such as the CMDA, the proposal has caused objections from state politicians.