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World powers offer US$1.9b to fight bird flu
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-19 06:24

The global fight against bird flu got a shot in the arm in Beijing yesterday with donors pledging US$1.9 billion.

The International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza ended with a Beijing Declaration, with governments vowing to implement national action plans "guided by political leadership at the highest level."

World powers offer US$1.9b to fight bird flu
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao adresses the International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza in Beijing January 18, 2006. [Xinhua]

Leading the list of donors are the World Bank, with US$500 million, and the Asian Development Bank, which committed US$470 million.

The United States pledged the largest amount from a single country US$334 million followed by Japan at US$159 million.

China, a bird-flu-afflicted country, pledged US$10 million.

The commitments far exceed the US$1.2 billion anticipated by the World Bank, indicating the increased sense of urgency and determination in the international community.

"What we've seen today is that the world really does care and wants to respond effectively to the threat of avian influenza, and a possible human pandemic," said David Nabarro, the UN co-ordinator on avian and human influenza.

Bird flu has killed more than half of the 150 affected people in Asia and Turkey since late 2003.

China reported its ninth human infection case yesterday. The victim was a 35-year-old woman surnamed Wei from Zhoujiaxiang Village of Jianyang, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, said a report released by the Ministry of Health.

Wei showed symptoms of fever and pneumonia and died on January 11, raising the country's total death toll from the disease to six.

"Avian flu should not be considered a human health issue, but a human- and animal-health issue," the UN Food and Agriculture Organization deputy chief David Harcharik said yesterday.

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