MANILA, Oct 22 (AFP): The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to spend 58 million dollars on two projects to help combat avian influenza in Asia and the Pacific, the Manila-based bank said.
A bank statement said its board is already considering a 30 million dollar project for regional communicable disease control in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
"The project will help the region improve control of various endemic and emerging communicable diseases - including avian flu - within the framework of the greater Mekong subregion cooperation programme," Vincent de Wit, an ADB health specialist said.
But with the increasing risk of a pandemic the ADB is to set aside a further 28 million dollars to specifically address the issue in Asia and the Pacific.
For the project the bank will be working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and other development partners.
ADB is already involved in dealing with the disease, in particular through its support of the WHO's Manila office, which covers the western Pacific region, under a regional technical assistance project that was established to address the SARS outbreak of 2003.
It is also planned than and an extra 600,000 dollars will be allocated to continue its support for the WHO's southeast Asia office, based in Delhi.
The current manifestation of bird flu, which began at the end of 2003, has already had an impact on poor and rural communities. Almost 140 million domestic birds have either died or been destroyed, and more than 60 people are known to have died.