Brussels, 28 April 2006
The European Commission is well on track to fully mobilize €100 million pledged at the Beijing conference to combat Avian Influenza around the world, ahead of the target date. Funds pledged will help poorer countries tackle Bird flu in the animal population, and increase preparedness for a possible human pandemic. The Commission aimed to deploy the whole amount pledged before the Senior Officials Meeting that will bring together donors and beneficiary countries in Vienna on 6/7 June, and is set to achieve that goal well within the deadline.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, remarked, "We have to act now to support to the neediest countries in containing avian influenza. Speed is of the essence to avert the threat of a pandemic and reduce economic losses."
Before Easter, the Commission gave its green light for €50 million to help affected countries in Asia, Central Asia, Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. The bulk of this package will be channelled through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund administered by the World Bank, which will become active in the coming weeks. National Action Plans - crucial to determining the priorities for expenditure – are in the process of being approved. This means that these funds will be able to be used almost immediately, and will be disbursed before the end of the year.
In parallel, Africa, Caribbean & Pacific Countries (ACP) have endorsed the €30 million assistance package already offered by the Commission. The mobilization of these funds should also be complete before the Vienna meeting.
Last but not least, a €20 million package devoted to research in the field of avian influenza is well underway. More than 300 scientists and 120 research institutions and laboratories in the EU Member States are at work to find innovative ways of tackling bird flu in animals as well as finding new methods to protect humans.
At the International Pledging Conference in Beijing in January 2006, the international community pledged a total of $1 billion in grants and $0.9 billion in loans. The European Commission pledged €100 million, of which € 30 million was for countries in Asia, €30 million for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, €10 million for countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and €10 million for countries on the Mediterranean littoral. A further €20 million is being used to support avian influenza research projects under the Sixth Framework Programme.
In Beijing almost 200 countries and several international organisations committed themselves to working together within the framework of WHO/FAO/OIE global strategies to effect a coordinated response to avian influenza. The Beijing Declaration committed participants to preparing and implementing integrated national action plans, with priority given to improving surveillance and detection capabilities, increasing public awareness and fostering community resilience, promoting vaccine research and development, and assisting with response and containment measures in the event outbreaks. In the longer term priority will be given to developing capacity and infrastructure in animal and public health sectors, as well as complementary reforms in related sectors where needed.
For more information: