An international donor's conference has opened in Beijing, where world health officials hope to raise $1.5 billion to help stop the spread of bird flu.

Officials from about 90 countries are attending the two-day meeting sponsored by The World Bank, European Union, and China.

United Nations bird flu official, Dr. David Nabarro, says the $1.5 billion is to help poor countries set up prevention programs. He says much more would be needed if bird flu becomes a global pandemic.

Health experts fear the deadly H5N1 strain could mutate into one that is easily spread among humans and create a worldwide catastrophe.

Bird flu has killed more than 80 people in southeast Asia, China, and Turkey since 2003.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.