The prevalence of avian influenza in Indonesia remains serious
despite containment efforts undertaken by national authorities
and the international community, FAO warned today. Indonesia is
the country worst hit by avian influenza.
“The human mortality rate from bird flu in Indonesia is
the highest in the world and there will be more human cases if
we do not focus more on containing the disease at source in animals,” said
FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech.
“Furthermore, I am deeply concerned that the high level
of virus circulation in birds in the country could create conditions
for the virus to mutate and to finally cause a human influenza
pandemic,” Domenech warned.
“The avian influenza situation in Indonesia is grave – all
international partners and national authorities need to step up
their efforts for halting the spread of the disease in animals
and making the fight against the virus a top priority.”
31 provinces affected
Avian influenza has become deeply entrenched in Indonesia with
31 out of 33 provinces being infected. The virus is endemic in
Java, Sumatra, Bali and southern Sulawesi with sporadic outbreaks
reported from other areas. Since the first outbreaks in 2003 avian
influenza has spread rapidly across Java into Bali, Kalimantan
and Sumatra. In 2006 the virus spread further east infecting Papua
and much of Sulawesi.
About twenty percent of the chicken population of 1.4 billion
is scattered in around 30 million backyards, where people raise
poultry for food or income.
Despite major control efforts, the country has not succeeded in
containing the spread of avian influenza in poultry, Domenech said.
“Indonesia is facing an uphill battle against a virus that
is difficult to contain. Major human and financial resources, stronger
political commitment and strengthened coordination between the
central, province and district authorities are required to improve
surveillance and control measures.”
A highly decentralized administration, under-resourced national
veterinary services, lack of engagement with commercial poultry
producers, insufficient international and national financial and
human resources for control campaigns and the challenges of implementing
a comprehensive communication strategy are the major constraints
the country is facing, he noted.
“We have also observed that new H5N1 avian influenza virus
strains have recently emerged creating the possibility that vaccines
currently in use may not be fully protecting poultry against the
disease. This issue is being addressed by the Indonesian Ministry
of Agriculture with technical assistance from OFFLU (OIE/FAO Influenza
Network of Laboratories) and funding provided by USAID and AusAID.
Also required are more investigations and the development of better
poultry vaccines,” Domenech said.
“The major challenge is to immediately apply the main components
of a successful national avian influenza control strategy, based
on effective surveillance, emergency culling and compensation,
vaccination, improved biosecurity, effective laboratory and quarantine
procedures, and movement controls of poultry and poultry products.”
FAO is supporting the Indonesian authorities in most of these
areas. In addition, the agency has helped to train local teams
of animal health professionals in participatory disease surveillance
and response (PDS/R).
So far, more than 1 350 local government PDS/R officers have been
trained and are actively working with village communities to prevent
and control avian influenza. Surveillance and response teams are
currently working in 193 out of 448 districts in Indonesia. By
June 2008, over 2 000 surveillance and response teams will be active
in more than 300 districts in disease-endemic areas of the country.
Other FAO activities include the provision of technical and policy
advice to the HPAI Campaign Management Unit, support to communication
strategies, the implementation of market chain studies and research
Major donors, such as USAID, AusAID, Japan and the Netherlands,
together with FAO, have so far invested more than $25 million in
supporting national control efforts.
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