The Medical Research Council has revealed that a GBP10m (US$17.2m) research programme into bird flu and other emerging infectious diseases is to be set up, according to the BBC.

The World Health Organization has said a lack of world-wide cooperation has hampered efforts to combat the disease, the broadcaster said.

It is hoped the Medical Research Council’s initiative will not only lead to valuable medical information being shared, but also the establishment of long-term relationships between scientists battling infectious diseases in different countries.

Funds will be spent on looking at how people become infected with bird flu, how the disease spreads, and whether drug-resistant strains are emerging.

A team from the Medical Research Council went to China and Vietnam earlier this month amid fears that cases were going unreported, but Sir John Skehel, director of the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research, and one of the researchers who went on the fact finding mission, said he had been persuaded that this was not the case.

In the UK and other countries, the plan is to kill all birds in an affected area rather than use vaccines.

Thousands of birds have already been exterminated following outbreaks in Romania and Turkey.