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Donors pledge $406 million to fight avian flu

first_imgDec 7, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – International donors at this week’s New Delhi conference on avian and pandemic influenza pledged about $406 million, including $195 million from the United States, to fight H5N1 avian flu, according to news reports.The latest pledges will bring the total promised by donors and multilateral development banks (MDBs) in the past 2 years to about $2.7 billion. A report released last week by the United Nations and the World Bank said a total of about $2.3 billion was pledged at conferences in Beijing in January 2006 and in Bamako, Mali, in December 2006.When the New Delhi conference opened Dec 4, the World Bank predicted a need for $1.2 billion to help countries battle avian flu over the next 2 to 3 years, according to a Dec 6 report by Agence France-Presse (AFP).Peter Harrold, acting vice president of the World Bank, called the new pledges a “very encouraging response,” AFP reported. “There is still a gap, but this is more than what we had anticipated,” he said.The United States had previously pledged $434 million to the avian flu fight. In New Delhi, US officials promised another $195 million, raising the total to $629 million, according to a Dec 6 Reuters report.More than $1 billion paid out Of the $2.3 billion previously pledged for the avian flu battle, $1.7 billion (72%) has been committed and more than $1 billion (43%) has been paid out, according to the UN–World Bank report, which was released Nov 29 in advance of the conference. About $600 million remained uncommitted as of the end of June.The report says the original $2.3 billion included $1.326 billion in grants from various donors, including the European Commission, and $983 million from MDBs, mostly in loans.Of the grant money, all but $57 million had been committed by the end of June, and 74% of the committed funds have been paid out, the report says. Of the committed funds, $282 million is going to countries, $433 million to international organizations, $206 million to regional organizations, and $333 million to other recipients.More than half of the mostly loan money pledged by MDBs—$592 million out of $983 million—had not yet been committed as of the end of June, according to the report. The reasons, it says, include the time it takes to prepare “integrated country programs” and the preference of developing countries to use grants rather than loans to finance their integrated programs.Fifty-six percent of the country-specific money committed so far is going to East Asia and South Asia, the report states. Another 24% is for Europe and Central Asia, with countries in Africa and the Middle East getting 18%. Latin America and the Caribbean are receiving only 2%.This week’s meeting, called the New Delhi International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, drew more than 600 officials from over 100 countries and a number of international organizations, according to AFP.Long-term efforts neededA major theme of the conference, as well as of the UN-World Bank report, was the need to shift from focusing on emergency responses to avian flu to developing medium- and long-term strategies to deal with H5N1 and the threat of a human flu pandemic, according to news reports.The UN report says many countries have improved their responses to avian flu in the past year, but the disease remains entrenched in several countries and the threat of a pandemic is the same now as it was in mid 2005, when it became a high-profile issue.John E. Lange, who headed the US delegation to the conference, said in a Dec 4 speech there, “While we have made progress in the years since the virus first appeared, we now need to shift some of our efforts from the ’emergency’ phase of identifying and dealing with avian outbreaks to a greater emphasis on long-term capacity-building to improve both animal and human health systems as they relate to the H5N1 avian influenza virus and other emerging and reemerging infectious and zoonotic diseases.”Lange also touched on the dispute with Indonesia over the sharing of H5N1 virus samples, though he didn’t name the country. “We call on all countries to share virus samples freely, without encumbrances, for the benefit of global health,” he said.Maintaining that H5N1 isolates provided by developing countries are used to make vaccines those countries can’t afford, Indonesia has shared very few samples with the World Health Organization over the past year.India praised for compensation programIn other news from the conference, India was praised for its “swift, fair and efficient” compensation of poultry owners whose birds were culled because of outbreaks in 2006 and 2007, according to a Dec 5 report from the Times of India.David Nabbaro, the UN’s senior influenza coordinator, was quoted as saying, “India’s philosophy to compensate quickly and fairly at the district level is commendable. That’s why farmers came out in the open and declared when their birds died.”Indian Health Minister A. Ramadoss said the government paid about $19.5 million in compensation in 2006 and $2.2 million in 2007, according to the Times. Indian officials said the government paid poultry owners the market value of their birds.The UN–World Bank report said that in a survey, 66% of countries reported having prepared plans for compensating poultry owners for culled birds, but legislation and administrative procedures lag behind.Other findings cited in the report:144 countries have prepared an avian flu plan, a pandemic plan, or an integrated plan for both threats27% of countries said they have no capacity to detect and confirm human H5n1 cases41% of countries have tested pandemic plans in simulation exercises50% of countries have done some planning for maintaining their infrastructure during a pandemicAt the end of the conference, the Indian government released a suggested planning template for countries to use in preparing for avian and pandemic flu. The “Vision and Road Map” includes 21 goals that India proposes countries try to accomplish by the end of 2008.See also: 12-page synopsis of UN–World Bank reporthttp://www.undg.org/docs/8097/english%20pn.pdfFull text of 91-page UN–World Bank reporthttp://www.undg.org/docs/8097/UN-WB%20AHI%20Progress%20Report%20final%20PRINT.pdfTranscript of speech by John E. Langehttp://www.state.gov/g/avianflu/96208.htmIndia’s proposed “Vision and Road Map” for preparednesshttp://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=33862last_img read more

Enthusiastic women’s rugby club growing

first_imgRecruiting in any type of collegiate sports program has inherent difficulties, but having to overcome preconceived, negative notions and unfamiliarity with the sport makes the task much more demanding.The USC women’s club rugby team faced this situation in its inaugural season during the spring semester of 2009.Physical situation · The USC women’s rugby team takes part in a scrum at UC San Diego’s annual Scrum by the Sea. The club is recruiting heavily on campus in preparation for its upcoming second season of action. – Dieuwertje Kast | Daily TrojanAs a newly established club, filling the minimum of 15 players needed to play in games proved to be a significant challenge.“It was a real struggle. A lot of times we didn’t have subs and we were playing against teams with two times the players,” senior Shawna Kleban said.In certain circumstances, the team was forced to use players from other colleges as fill-ins, which made creating team chemistry difficult.“Having to borrow players made it hard to develop camaraderie,” USC coach Peter Tillotson said.To promote a stronger connection within the team, the club is focusing on recruiting. But the lack of recognition of rugby, especially in Southern California, creates hardships in finding newcomers willing to try out the sport.“It is difficult to recruit new girls, because many are not familiar with the sport,” Kleban said.Given the adverse situation, the club has continued with an aggressive recruiting campaign in hopes of filling the dire need for players during the upcoming spring season.Recruiting tactics have included manning a booth at the involvement fair, selling T-shirts, having team members bring friends to practice and giving talks at sorority house dinners to increase awareness and attract new members.The Greek presence is beneficial to the team as its looks to increase its numbers.“A decent amount of the team is Greek. We are trying to build on the sisterhood idea,” sophomore Kimberley Carder said.As the number of team members and each one’s individual commitment increases, the club strives for continued growth and the ability to function on its own.“Our goal is to make the club self-sufficient,” said junior Jessica Choi, president and founder of club.To achieve this aspiration, the club plans to establish a rookie development program, headed by Carder.“[The program] will peg a rookie with an experienced player,” Carder said. “This mentor program will help promote a better understanding of the sport.”As part of this initiative, Carder looks to hold an additional practice composed of solely rookies to teach essential skills and rugby vernacular, and to build teamwork.Successful implementation of this program would allow the club to build on some of the strong points that Tillotson has emphasized.“The team’s biggest strengths are their enthusiasm and ability to pick up the game,” he explained.The club’s roster currently lists 27 members, but it is always looking for more to try out.“We would like to field at least two teams with 15 players each,” Tillotson said.Currently the team has been participating in off-season training and the club has made evident strides over the course of the semester.The team has played in several games to maintain playing shape, including the Scrum by the Sea Tournament in San Diego on Nov. 7 and 8, where it was able to win two matches.Ultimately, Tillotson would like to see the club be on par with other rugby programs around the nation.“[The aim] is to reach the level to compete with the more experienced clubs, and to play at the high level which [USC is] capable of playing,” he said.The coaching staff has played a critical role in helping the team achieve some of its success in the off-season.“Coach has been great in the development of the core of the team,” team captain Bonnie Wong said.As the team develops, it looks to be competitive in the Collegiate Women’s Second Division of the Southern California Rugby Football Union.Although the club continues to grow and achieves greater amounts of success, the team maintains a true sense of what sports are fundamentally about.Junior Luisa Lam explained that the main purpose of the club is “learning about the game, not necessarily winning, but enjoying rugby and having fun.”With this outlook, the club looks to continue and grow in number and in spirit by embracing the multifaceted sport of rugby and establishing long-lasting bonds between players.last_img read more