The research group I work with was funded by the US government to conduct surveillance for H5N1 in poultry and humans in Bangladesh last year. Since then, we have made numerous attempts to work with the national livestock authorities on integrating our work into the national suveillance effort. They are challenging partners because of the real financial and political disincentives the government has to report outbreaks of bird flu.
Bangladesh identified it's first H5N1 outbreaks in poultry in March 2007. Since then, the urgency of forming a formal collaborative relationship between our organization and the government has intensified. We are currently building a diagnostic facility and collecting biological specimens from poultry and humans with respiratory disease. As soon as the lab is up and running we'll be finding bird flu. It's just a matter of time.
Our draft memorandum of understanding with the government was 'lost' at the ministry many times over the past 9 months. Today, at long last, we got it signed. The picture above documents the occasion. This is our team (I'm taking the picture) with the Director General for Livestock Services. I was the only woman in the room- maybe on the whole floor! There aren't many Bangladeshi women in the livestock sector.
It was a good day. Especially when I'm met by these faces at home.