Indonesia defends bird flu fight

11-08-2006 | |

The Indonesian government has vowed to bolster efforts to bring bird flu under control, amidst mounting criticism that the country is not doing enough to contain the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus in poultry. Indonesia has the world’s highest number of fatalities from the disease, reportedly standing at 45 deaths.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie has defended the measures the country has implemented, adding Jakarta had not yet received any of the US$1.9 billion in aid pledged by foreign nations to help fight bird flu.
“We have already carried out culls to stop the spread of bird flu in the country,” he said, dismissing criticism that authorities are hesitant to implement unpopular measures or commit to providing the necessary compensation for culled birds.
Indonesia’s agriculture minister Anton Apriyantono and health minister Siti Fadilah Supari, along with dozens of officials of the National Commission on Bird Flu, attended a meeting at Aburizal’s office to evaluate the latest situation.
Anton said that since 2004, when Indonesia first detected the H5N1 virus in poultry, the government slaughtered about 29 million birds across the archipelago. About 5.9 million of those were from backyard farms, which local and international health experts have said are the primary source of infection in humans.
He said the government spent 60 billion rupiah (more than US$6 million) in compensation for owners of the birds culled from household coops, but did not elaborate on the amounts of compensation received by poultry farms.
“However, there’s no guarantee that culling will totally stop the spread of the virus, but it definitely will reduce cases of infection in both poultry and humans,” he said, referring to the reappearance of H5N1 infection in humans in Thailand last week despite the cull of millions of chickens six months ago.