The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has disbursed more than $11 million to partner agencies – ASEAN, FAO and WHO – to counter the immediate threat posed by avian influenza in the Asia and Pacific region.
The funds are from ADB‘s $38 million regional project for Prevention and Control of Avian Influenza announced in March. The project aims to strengthen regional capacity and facilitate regional cooperation to prevent or rapidly control avian flu outbreaks among birds and to help countries manage cases of human influenza caused by the H5N1 virus.
The project will also help prepare the region for a possible pandemic by supporting regional interagency collaboration, regional cooperation in sharing information, and strengthening regional networks. To date, some $99,000 has been transferred to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, $2.59 million to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, and $8.4 million to the World Health Organisation.
ADB has pledged about $470 million in possible assistance on bird flu. Of this, about $100 million could be derived from reallocations from existing loans, while some $300 million could be made available in new loans, if requested by affected countries, complementing World Bank and other donors’ resources.
The potential impact of a flu pandemic would be substantial and could cripple economic growth and poverty reduction across the world. Based on WHO best-case estimates that up to 7 million people could die worldwide, a pandemic would cost Asia $297 billion in one year and throw the world into recession, according to a recent ADB study.