Bird flu planning summit opens in Beijing

Jan. 17, 2006 at 9:02 AM

BEIJING, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A summit of international leaders and bankers convened in Beijing Tuesday to plan funding of a $1.5 billion battle against the spread of avian flu.

Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nations' top bird flu official, told the Financial Times the aim is to raise the money, then ensure it can be accounted for when it is allocated to countries in need.

Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's assistant director general for communicable diseases, said it was a logical step for large nations to take.

"Whatever resources you put in place, compared to the potential pandemic cost, it's peanuts, it's nothing," Chan said.

Since emerging in Southeast Asia in 2003, bird flu has killed more than 70 people there by direct contact with infected birds and poultry. But it has spread into Turkey, where four people have died in the last month.

Scientists are concerned the H5N1 virus will mutate into a form than can be transmitted human-to-human, and spread worldwide.

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