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International Community to Help Nigeria Deal with Bird Flu


An increasing number of foreign governments and international organizations have pledged support to Nigeria as it grapples with the deadly bird flu virus.

Agriculture minister Adamu Bello Friday briefed diplomats and representatives of international organizations on Nigeria's efforts to combat the spread of the bird flu virus. Adamu told reporters in Abuja at the end of the meeting that Nigeria had asked for international help to deal with the outbreak.

"This morning we had a meeting with international agencies that are present in Nigeria and we briefed them on the outbreak of the avian influenza and indicated to them the kind of resources requirement that is likely arise from it and showed them that we need facilities such as laboratories, vaccines, technical support and share experiences with those of them that had the unfortunate experience," said Bello. "A country like Turkey, their ambassador was here."

Bello said a number of countries have already pledged assistance to Nigeria.

"The response was very positive, they stand ready to support us," he said. "The U.S. government yesterday came and pledged $25 million, a lot of support. The European Union has indicated that they have an emergency fund of $10 million that we could apply for and so forth. The Chinese government has pledged some support."

The Nigerian official also dismissed reports that the outbreak may have occurred at least a month before it was detected. He said the government responded immediately when it was reported.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has also pledged technical and logistic assistance and the World Health Organization is sending a team of public health experts to Nigeria to assist efforts to control the deadly flu virus.

FAO Representative in Nigeria, Helder Muteia, said he was satisfied with the response of the Nigerian government to the outbreak.

"Yes, very satisfied," said Muteia. "I think the government is approaching very well the situation. Again its communicating well and very hopeful and providing all the information and in terms of the measures in the field, I'm very satisfied with the quality of the response from the Nigerian government."

Nigerian authorities have detected the deadly strain of bird flu in three states. Officials say a proper assessment is being done to establish the extent of the spread. Several thousand infected chickens have been destroyed in Nigeria in the last few days as the government steps up containment measures. Nigeria is the first African country to be infected with the deadly avian influenza H5N1.

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