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January 20, 2006

St. Kitts and Nevis and other countries of the world is being promised some assistance from the US to fight the pending Bird Flu Pandemic.

Ambassador Nancy Powell, the State Department’s Senior Coordinator for Avian Influenza and Infectious Diseases announced in Washington, D.C. yesterday, the United States’ pledge of approximately $334 million to support the global campaign against avian influenza and a potential influenza pandemic.

Ambassador Powell made the announcement at the International Pledging Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza in Beijing, China on January 17-18, 2006.

The U.S. funds will be largely in the form of grants and technical assistance to countries threatened by the virus.

They will be used to assist those countries in a variety of ways, including to develop and exercise national preparedness plans, to improve surveillance and response systems, to monitor and evaluate the use and distribution of animal vaccine, to produce and test vaccines for humans, to train local rapid-response teams and medical personnel, and to support communications and public awareness campaigns to limit practices that contribute to the spread of the avian influenza virus.

Portions of the pledged U.S. funds will also be used for international research activities and to support the influenza-related work of international technical agencies, private-sector partners, and non-governmental organizations.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last September, President George W. Bush announced the formation of an “International Partnership” to combat avian influenza and to deal with the threat of a possible human pandemic. The President said the global community has “a moral duty to protect our citizens, and heal the sick, and comfort the afflicted”.

According conference officials, the combined total of pledges from all donor countries and organizations amounted to $1.9 billion. The United States’ pledge represented the largest national contribution to the global campaign against the virus.

Conferees also discussed the importance of strong programs at the individual county level to combat the virus, the need for transparency in sharing information about outbreaks, and a “financing framework” proposed by the World Bank as a means of tracking coordinated donor contributions.

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