GENEVA, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- The International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said here Wednesday
that governments and aid agencies should give priority to the "very serious"
threat of bird flu.
"We're not hearing as much about avian influenza
these days as we used to, but that doesn't mean the threat has disappeared,"
said the organization in its newly released annual report on the state of avian
influenza preparedness, mitigation and response.
The IFRC asked the international community not to let
its guard down and become better prepared because the world remains at risk of a
human pandemic of bird flu.
In April, 2006, the IFRC launched a global appeal for
1.34 million U.S. dollars to help vulnerable communities meet the threat of bird
flu. Since then, the IFRC has taken prevention measures, including information
and awareness campaigns targeted at poultry farmers, and the distribution of
equipment and hygiene supplies to stop the virus from spreading.
It is estimated that 7.5 million people around the
world have so far benefited from these activities. Currently, the IFRC's global
appeal mainly pays for bird flu prevention programs in Africa, Asia and Europe.
According to the IFRC, since the end of 2003, more
than 60 countries have experienced outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu virus in domestic
poultry and wild birds. At least 320 people in 12 countries have been infected
and 193 have died.