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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 16:18, December 16, 2005
Indonesia struggles to stop major outbreaks of bird flu, polio
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After relief from damages caused by catastrophes, Indonesia works hard to ward off major outbreaks of bird flu and polio, which have concerned countries in Asia.

Indonesia has taken a lot of firm measures and targeted to be free from the crippling disease after March next year and to decline avian influenza virus spread to a minimum level for the next three to five years.

Since the migratory birds transmit the H5N1 virus, the virus has killed 9 of 14 contracted people in the country.

Regional Director of the World Health Organization for Southeast Asia Samlee Plianbangchang said that the back yard poultry farm had hampered efforts to eliminate the virus.

"I think the governments in Southeast Asia are very much concerned about it," he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made the fighting against bird flu as a government priority since the virus emerged in the country in the middle of this year.

Indonesia has slaughtered millions of fowls and hundreds of pigs in areas suspected of being contracted by the disease.

Indonesian agriculture ministry said that bio-security might be the most possible measure to prevent the spread.

The ministry will cooperate with experts from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization to begin monitoring suspected areas across the country next month, in an effort to be able to take immediate action when signal of development of virus is found.

"We planned to have monitoring post in every village nationwide to control the disease, however, we now put priority on suspected areas only," Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono said.

Indonesia has designated over 100 hospitals across the country to facilitate those contracted by the disease.

Experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that passes easily among humans, just like human influenza. If it does, millions could die because they would have no immunity.

Indonesia has sufficient stock of Tamiflu tablets for remedy as well as license from the Swiss drug maker Roche Holding for production of the tablets.

According to Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari, Indonesia would produce anti-bird flu vaccine for human next year. "We will produce the vaccine in January and the vaccine can be marketed in December."

Indonesia is also nearly free from polio outbreak, after the country vaccinated over 24 millions youngsters nationwide in three rounds during the last three months.

The World Health Organization says that the drives have significantly decreased the development of the polio virus and recommended two more rounds soon, in order to completely reach the possible un-reached youngsters during the three rounds.

"We will continue (the immunization). All funds needed have been obtained, " Health Minster Siti Fadillah Sufari said, adding that 70 percent of the funds was donated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nation Children of Funds and international rotary organizations, while the rest was from state budget.

"After March we will be free from polio," said Fadillah.

The achievement would delete fears of possible spread of the virus to neighboring countries.

The waterborne polio virus, which attacks and withers children's limbs and can kill them, reemerged in Indonesia in March, a decade after it was believed to have been eradicated in the country. The virus has seriously attacked nearly 270 youngsters in the country.

Indonesian health ministry said that the virus may have been transferred by immigrant worker or Haj pilgrim who visited Saudi Arabia before returning to Indonesia.

Source: Xinhua

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