More than 120 countries pledged US$1.9 billion to a global fund to fight bird flu during a conference in Beijing yesterday, with the central government vowing to contribute US$10 million. The news came as the Ministry of Health revealed last night that a 35-year-old woman from Sichuan who died last Wednesday tested positive a day later for the H5N1 strain, a disease some fear could lead to a global pandemic. She was the sixth person to have died of bird flu on the mainland. The woman, surnamed Wei, was from Zhoujia village in Jianyang city .She fell ill on January 3 but was only taken to hospital last Tuesday. Premier Wen Jiabao announced Beijing's funding pledge at the close of a two-day international donors' conference in Beijing co-sponsored by China, the European Commission and the World Bank. Addressing 700 delegates from more than 120 countries and international groups, Mr Wen said Beijing would hand over the money as soon as possible to 'support the global effort to prevent and control bird flu'. 'China is ready to fully use existing co-operation mechanisms to give country and international organisations concerned timely and accurate updates on the latest development of bird flu epidemics,' he said. 'We will release relevant information such as genetic sequencing of viral strains and work with the international community to develop response strategies.' The Beijing meeting was called to promote, mobilise and help co-ordinate financial support for national, regional and global responses to bird flu. Its other aim was to raise money to combat the virus, especially in developing countries. Markos Kyprianou, European commissioner for health and consumer safety, said during the conference that the international community had pledged US$1.9 billion to the cause. 'This is a significant achievement we all can be proud of,' Mr Kyprianou said. He said nearly US$1 billion would be in the form of grants, with a significant proportion going to support low-income countries especially in Southeast Asia where the disease is endemic and other regions at risk such as Africa. The remaining US$900 million would be available as loans 'to allow countries to address the short-term and longer-term sector reform agenda', Mr Kyprianou said. China's contribution was the biggest of all developing countries. It is one of the six main recipient countries of the funds, together with Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Turkey. The biggest overall contributions were US$334 million in grants from the United States, US$250 million from the European Union and US$155 million from Japan. Ministry of Agriculture chief veterinarian Jia Youling said China had tried its best within its capacity to contribute to the fight against bird flu. Mr Jia said China was one of the countries most affected by bird flu and the nation's attempts to deal with it would significantly contribute to the success of the international effort to combat the disease. Countries participating in the conference also endorsed a Beijing Declaration, agreeing to 'take further co-ordinated actions to strengthen disease surveillance and diagnostics, develop much-needed capacity in human and veterinary healthy systems, increase public awareness and address social and economic impacts'.