World Bank Board endorses funding plan to combat avian flu [Archives:2006/912/Local News]

January 16 2006

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 ) The World Bank's Board of Directors has given its endorsement of a new framework for a global funding program of up to US$500 million to help countries combat avian flu.

The new funding program is designed to allow countries to access funding on short notice to strengthen their veterinarian and health services to deal with avian flu outbreaks among animals, and minimize the threat posed to people, and prepare for, and respond to, any potential human flu pandemic.

The Kyrgyz Republic is expected to be the first country to obtain financing under the new program. Bank officials have been working on a project for the Kyrgyz Republic worth about US$5 million.

The Board's endorsement of the new framework comes just prior to the start of an international donors conference in Beijing, co-sponsored by the Government of China, the European Commission and the World Bank.

The conference is aimed at securing grant funds for countries from donors to help them fight avian flu – responding to estimates by the World Bank that at least between US$1.2 billion and $1.4 billion is needed globally to help countries combat the deadly virus.

The Head of the Bank's Avian Flu Taskforce, Jim Adams, says the Bank's new funding program will allow poor countries immediate access to funding to carry out national programs to control bird flu.

Adams says it's designed to be a flexible funding mechanism, also allowing donors who pledge money in Beijing to combine their grant funding with Bank-supported operations to reduce the overall cost.

“There are on-going discussions with a number of countries – in Africa, Eastern Europe, and in Asia. Turkey has already approached us and we've done some technical work and those discussions are on-going and we expect further talks in Beijing.”