Bird flu campaign fails to improve awareness
A group of people from the North Sumatran village where the largest
known human cluster of bird flu deaths occurred have killed a chicken and eaten
it raw in protest against the government's plan to cull birds in the
The Indonesian government has admitted that a public outcry like this
indicates that its bird flu information campaign has failed to improve public
awareness about the deadly disease, which in turn is contributing the nation's
high rate of human bird flu deaths.
WHO spokeswoman Sari Setiogi
confirmed yesterday that a seven-year-old girl who died in Jakarta had become
the nation's 38th bird flu fatality after positive testing by a World Health
Organisation-affiliated laboratory in Hong Kong. The girl's brother also died
after showing bird flu symptoms but was buried before tests were taken, the
Health Ministry said.
Public health experts have said the slow
progress in combating bird flu in the country was due partly to the lack of
coordination between the health and agriculture ministries.
Health Organisation experts have also expressed concerns that regional
administrations are not acting quickly enough to implement the government's
national bird flu strategy, faulting them for failing to initiate flu
surveillance in at-risk areas.
The Health Ministry said that the
government would opt to intensify its information campaign rather than enforce
the 1984 Plague Law, which punishes people who refuse to cooperate with the
government in tackling the spread of infectious
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