Indonesia asks for help fighting surge in bird flu deaths
Indonesia calls for the international
community to help it fight bird flu. The request follows a surge in human cases
this year that have put the country on pace to become the world's hardest hit by
A WHO-approved laboratory in Hong Kong confirmed Tuesday that a teenage
boy from Jakarta died last week of the disease, pushing the country's toll to
39, second only to Vietnam, which has 42.
Animal health experts are
at a three-day meeting in Jakarta to discuss the matter. "What is happening in
Indonesia? That is the No. 1 question that we very much would like to have the
answer from you," Bayu Krishnamurthi, Indonesia's national bird flu coordinator
said in his opening speech. "With all of these limited resources - human,
financial, institutional - what should we do?"
The meeting in
Jakarta comes a month after Indonesia announced the world's largest reported
family cluster. Six of seven family members from a remote farming village on the
island of Sumatra died after testing positive for the bird flu virus. An eighth
relative was buried before samples could be taken, but WHO considers her part of
Scientists have not been able to link the infected
relatives to contact with sick birds and believe limited human-to-human
transmission occurred. However, the virus has not mutated and no one outside the
family has fallen ill.
Indonesia lacks manpower and money to battle
the H5N1 virus alone, especially since the country has been struck by a series
of natural disasters, including the 2004 tsunami and an earthquake last month on
Krishnamurthi said education and public awareness were
key to fighting the disease, but that was not easy in a poor country with 220
million people spread across thousands of islands roughly the size of
He said many people depend on backyard chickens for their
survival. It is "not an easy task to ask them to kill their chickens because we
are saying it is dangerous for them in the future."
said it needs US$900 million (€710 million) over the next three years for its
overall battle against the H5N1 virus but has only budgeted US$59 million (€46
million) for 2006. This figure includes compensation for culled birds,
stockpiling drugs for humans and other expenses.
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