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UN agency unable to raise funds to fight bird flu in West Africa

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(Bloomberg) — The United Nations says it hasn’t been able to raise funds to combat an outbreak of bird flu in West Africa even as it fears the disease may become endemic.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been trying to raise $20 million to stop the outbreak, which has spread to five countries in the region, Eran Raizman, head of the FAO’s emergency prevention system for animal health, said in a phone interview from Rome on Thursday.

“It’s a relatively small amount to address an immense situation,” Raizman said. “We are in a good moment to stop the disease as it’s not established as endemic in any country. We fear we are getting close to it in some countries.”

Poultry farms and markets in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana and Ivory Coast have had bird flu outbreaks in the past six months. More than 1.6 million birds have been culled or have died since late 2014 in an outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in West Africa, according to the FAO.

See also: China’s H10N8 bird flu has deadly cousins