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U.N. Says Money Is Reaching Areas Hit By Bird Flu
posted by admin on 05/04/06
BEIJING, China -- The United Nation's bird-flu point man said some of the $1.9 billion pledged in January for bird-flu and pandemic preparedness has started to reach countries hit hard by the virus.
"A lot of that money is now being spent in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey, Nigeria and Central Asia," said David Nabarro, the U.N.'s chief coordinator for avian influenza, at a news conference yesterday.
Beijing was Dr. Nabarro's first stop on a regional tour that includes Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia -- countries where the H5N1 virus has been rampant in the poultry stock.
He met with Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, who heads the country's bird-flu command center, along with officials from the ministries of health and agriculture and said China's cooperation with the world is essential to controlling the spread of the H5N1 virus.
"During the last three months globally, there has been an enormous and rapid spread of H5N1," he said. "This is a really serious global situation."
In that time period, 30 countries in Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East have reported infections in birds in their territories, he said. That rapid acceleration compares with the previous 2 1/2; years, when 15 countries reported H5N1.
Dr. Nabarro said the World Bank recently signed off on a $50 million loan for Nigeria to battle bird flu.
Meanwhile, a U.S. health expert attending an unrelated Beijing health conference said there must be more infectious-disease research in Asian countries, and scientists need to more closely track changes in the H5N1 bird-flu virus to prepare for a potential pandemic.
"I think of it as the earthquake in San Francisco, you know it's on the fault. You know it's going to occur but you can't tell if it's going to occur this year or next year or the year after," said Roger Glass, the new director of the Fogarty International Center at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Copyright © 2006 Associated Press
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