WHO lacks half the funds to battle bird flu

The World Health Organisation still lacks about half the funds it needs to help countries fight bird flu, the acting director-general said yesterday.

"We have still not been able to fill the gap. There's still a shortfall," Anders Nordstrom, acting head of the Geneva-based UN health agency, said.

"We still are able to respond when there are outbreaks, but to be able to really work with countries to build up good surveillance systems and information systems, we do need more resources."


Nordstrom said WHO needs $90 million (Dh330 million) to $100 million (Dh367 million) over a two-year period, but has only received about half of that amount.

He said countries themselves also need to come up with more funding to help strengthen surveillance and rapid response systems within their borders.

Nordstrom spoke on the sidelines of the annual WHO Western Pacific regional meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, which brings together health officials from across the Asia-Pacific to set the organisation's strategic agenda for coming years.

Bird flu and the fear of a global pandemic has remained a top item on the meeting's agenda for the third straight year. Health experts fear the H5N1 virus will mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds.(from gulfnews.com)


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