A bilateral and regional cooperation framework to prepare for an avian flu pandemic was discussed by Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian health and veterinary officials in Istanbul on Wednesday. While there have been Israeli-Jordanian and Israeli-Palestinian meetings since avian influenza made headlines in the Mediterranean region in early October, this was the first meeting in which experts from all three nations participated. The teams formulated recommendations for cooperating and coordinating disease surveillance, risk communication, vaccination, training, research and the movement of people and goods before and during a possible bird flu outbreak. The discussions are the first steps in the preparation of a sub-regional plan by the three. The experts met under the umbrella of the Middle East Consortium on Infectious Disease Surveillance (MECIDS), whose goals are to improve the ability of Middle Eastern nations to respond to disease outbreaks and to build mutual trust through transborder cooperation. It was founded by Search for Common Ground, a global conflict-transformation organization, and the NTI Global Health and Security Initiative, which focuses on strengthening global disease surveillance, early detection and rapid response. MECIDS has focused since 2002 on food-borne diseases, offering multinational training courses for health workers from all the participating nations, promoting encounters and creating a system for participating health ministries to share information.