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ASEAN Officials Participate in Unique Pandemic Exercise

Health officials from across Southeast Asia are participating in a unique five-day exercise to see how well they would respond to a pandemic in a fictional continent called "Pandemica."

The ASEAN-led exercise, which began Monday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is the first of its kind. It also involves the World Health Organization and other U.N. agencies and has funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Officials say the exercise deals not only with the health consequences of a pandemic. Participants are also practicing how they would maintain essential services such as energy and mass transport in the face of widespread illness.

The region was hard-hit by SARS in 2003 and by a human form of bird flu in 2004.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.