Funds needed to scale up global efforts to control avian influenza

EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Friday January 20, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H ET Thursday January 19, 2006.

Global control efforts--and the funds to support them--need to be scaled up now to address the current failures in halting avian influenza, states an editorial in this week's issue of The Lancet.

The spread of the virus in Turkey indicates that the efforts to control avian influenza in birds are not working as well as hoped. Donors at the International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Influenza in Beijing, Jan 17–18, need to acknowledge that funds for global control efforts should be scaled up to address this failure. Experts estimate that $1•2 billion to $1•4 billion is needed to boost global efforts to stop the spread of avian influenza and ward off a human pandemic.

The Lancet comments: "Although Turkey's plight is unlikely to have held much sway in the deliberations among big donors, for other delegates [in Beijing] it should reinforce the necessity of a strong global response. A restatement of rich nations' commitment to helping poorer countries is especially important now since global momentum at the end of last year was in danger of waning after some commentators took the scarcity of human infections as an indication that warnings of mass casualties were an overreaction…Turkey's experience should also remind all nations that the status of preparations to protect human health remains an immediate, and serious, concern."

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Contact: The Lancet press office 2-074-244-949/4249, pressoffice@lancet.com


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