FAO demands $20m to fight Bird Flu outbreak

The Food and Agriculture Organization is asking for 20 million dollars to avert the spread of bird flu across West Africa.

The call comes after the outbreak of the H5N1 virus in Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire.

In Ghana, at least 40,000 birds have been destroyed, as a ban is placed on the movement and sale of live birds to prevent a spread of the virus.

A statement by the FAO said the fight against bird flu must be intensified across the sub region.

The statement added that the outbreaks came as countries across West Africa were still recovering from, and in some cases still battling, Ebola.

It cautioned that avian flu could trigger a mass die-off of chicken which is a nutritious and inexpensive source of food for many people, resulting in detrimental impacts on diets and on the economy of the region.

It noted that the bird flu strain had caused the death of tens of millions of poultry and losses of tens of billions of dollars.

The FAO fears there is a real risk of further virus spread.

It said urgent action is needed to strengthen veterinary investigation and reporting systems in the region and tackle the disease at the root, before there is a spillover to humans.

The statement observed that the FAO’s appeal for $ 20 million for prevention and response, foresees bolstering weak veterinary systems, improving the capabilities of local laboratories and putting FAO specialists on the ground in affected countries and those at risk.