2 Mar 2008

Bird Flu Epidemic

Indonesia has been the country hardest hit by avian influenza and David Nabarro said this year all countries must maintain ongoing efforts to raise public awareness and prevent the spread of diseases caused by the animal kingdom.

"We have seen impacts of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), HIV/AIDS and BSE (mad cow disease)," UN System Influenza Coordinator Nabarro said here on Wednesday.
"All of these diseases are initially from animals kept by humans.
"Safe animal rearing, either in the backyard or large farming, must therefore be seriously taken into account."
Nabarro said the rapid and widespread impact of SARS when it first hit Hong Kong and then moved across to some southeast Asian countries and even to Canada in 2003 provided a complete scientific example of a pandemic which could be caused by the H5N1 virus -- or avian bird flu.

Nabarro also said the importance of the campaign "One World, One Health" was imperative and that it must start at the grass roots level.
He said ongoing efforts to face future challenges in improving public health services, the animal health sector and measured responses from related parties to tackle emergency situations were also imperative.
Indonesia's chief executive of the National Committee for Avian Influenza and Pandemic Preparedness Bayu Krisnamurthi said the archipelago had responded to the UN's call for vigilance.
"We'll change our approach, making efforts to battle bird flu more systemic and sustainable," he said.
"Efforts will include three sectors -- human health, animal health and pandemic preparedness.
"Fires occur all the time, but we never have drills on how to deal with that kind of emergency situation," he said.
Bayu said one of the biggest challenges was to revamp the poultry industry and said public awareness campaigns would be intensified with this in mind.

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