Interpol creates centre to combat bio-terror

3rd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

LYON, France, March 2 (AFP) - More than 500 police chiefs, doctors and public health officials at an Interpol conference agreed Wednesday to create a global information centre to fight the threat of bio-terrorism and called for greater cooperation between law enforcement and the scientific community.

LYON, France, March 2 (AFP) - More than 500 police chiefs, doctors and public health officials at an Interpol conference agreed Wednesday to create a global information centre to fight the threat of bio-terrorism and called for greater cooperation between law enforcement and the scientific community.

"We have to strengthen the cooperation that exists between the different groups, those concerned with law enforcement and those from the world of science, medicine and agriculture," said Jean-Michel Louboutin, executive director of Interpol, at the closing of a two-day conference on the menace of an attack with biological agents.

The conference, sponsored by Interpol, agreed to set up the information centre on bio-terrorism at the Lyon headquarters of the world's largest police organisation which would be available to its 182 members.

The doctors and public health specialists at the meeting pushed for the need of putting in place alert systems that would lead to the diagnosis and eventual treatment of the victims of an attack.

"What we have to do is take the threat of epidemic seriously, whether it's going to be a natural flu or a bio-terrorism attack," said Dr Tara O'Toole, director of the Centre of Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh in the United States.

Others noted the importance of a dialogue between police and health experts which, they pointed out, was not always easy.

"Although we're both focused on public safety, we consider the issue from a different angle," said Michael Sheenan, assistant director of the anti-terrorism unit of the New York Police Department. "Without this dialogue, we may be slow to react, we may miss important things."

Biological agents are feared to be the future weapons of choice for terrorists.

The conference will be followed by training workshops, the first in South Africa at the end of this year, the second in Chile in 2006 and the third in China the same year.

Interpol, established in 1923 to help police agencies worldwide, called the conference with delegates from 155 countries one of the largest in its history.

The organisation hopes the gathering will generate funding for a special anti-bio-terror unit. The conference itself was financed by a near USD 1 million (EUR 756,000) subsidy from the New York-based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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