$100m needed to stop spread of birdflu

In an effort to contain the spread of bird flu, one of the UN agencies' focuses is live food markets, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a reform of farming and food production methods to contain the spread of the virus.

At a conference in Malaysia delegates have heard that if the virus goes unchecked and causes a human flu pandemic, a third of the world could fall sick.

The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization say it will require efforts from rich and poor nations to stop that happening, and scientists are saying that the task ahead is a tough one.

But they reckon a multi-pronged plan, which was worked out in just three days in Malaysia, will give them a fighting chance, but it will only work with maximum effort and commitment from everyone concerned.

The plan centers around educating farmers and small holders across East Asia, and scientists warn that though many of them live and work close to livestock, and conditions are often unsanitary, providing a breeding ground for the virus, that must change if bird flu is to be contained.

$100m,has been called for to implement the plan, and most of that will be spent on vaccinating flocks and compensating farmers who report outbreaks.

The WHO fears bird flu could escalate out of control and lead to a human flu pandemic.

Peter Cordingley, a spokesman for the WHO, says a mutated virus which is able to be transmitted between humans could not be stopped and would reach all the world's capitals within weeks.

The result, he says, would be that billions would fall sick, and billions more would be too afraid to go to work, leading to a collapse of essential services.

The WHO's view is that health care in the developing world would simply be swept away and that makes $100m a small price to pay.

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