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Brussels, 22 December 2005

European Commission to co-host International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Influenza in Beijing

The European Commission is to co-host with the government of the People’s Republic of China and the World Bank an International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Influenza. Over 90 countries have been invited, as well as 25 organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Commissioners Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Markos Kyprianou and Louis Michel are jointly preparing the Commission contribution to the conference. EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Kyprianou, who will represent the European Commission at the conference and co-chair the pledging session, said: “Avian influenza is a global threat, and it is only through the international community working together to tackle this problem at its root that we can protect ourselves effectively.” The final pledge by the European Commission is currently being established on the basis of the external relations and development budgetary means. It will be announced at the pledging conference and will be in addition to the assistance to be provided by EU Member States.

Building on the Geneva conference of November 2005 which identified what support and resources were needed, this meeting aims at setting up a financing framework for donors to assist the worst affected countries in need to respond to the socioeconomic, animal and human health challenges posed by avian influenza. The first day of the conference will bring together high level officials to assess the current situation as well as the financing and technical needs for avian and human influenza control and prevention. A ministerial meeting will follow on the second day for countries and organizations to announce their contributions and pledges. The conference is expected to pass the Beijing Declaration on Avian influenza which reflects the political will of national governments to fight against avian influenza and will make proposals for establishing joint mechanisms for avian influenza fund management and coordination.

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