The Indonesian government will continue to rally support of World Health Organization (WHO) members for approval of a draft resolution which it proposed.
A press release from Indonesian Health Ministry on Saturday said that up to Friday, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari was trying hard to rally support from the delegates of WHO members attending the 60th World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva from May 16 to 23, 2007.
The minister also asked countries to side with Indonesia to sign a statement supporting Indonesia in establishing new WHO rulings which will be fairer and benefit all, especially the poor and developing countries.
Meanwhile, Director General for Disease Control and Environmental Health at the Health Ministry I Nyoman Kandun said over 22 WHO member countries had given their support to the Indonesia-proposed draft resolution on the mechanism of distribution and sending of bird flu virus samples.
Since bird flu was found on human beings in July 2005, the Indonesian government has sent specimen of the H5N1 virus strain to WHO laboratories.
Fadilah said the sending of the samples was in line with the transfer of documents and with WHO guidelines on Influenza Virus Exchange in 2005.
However, Fadilah deeply regretted that WHO in practice has not been consistent in the exchange of virus samples on the basis of the relevant regulations.
She said that to her surprise, the virus, the genetic sequence and part of the H5N1 virus sequence from Indonesia as well as from other countries sent to WHO turned out to have been used by third parties in the form of presentation, publication, commercialization and pattern copying without notifying the countries which had sent the virus specimen.
It was also unfair that the countries hit by bird flu did not only suffer from high bird flu-related mortality but also difficulties in getting more access to medicines and bird flu vaccines.
Earlier, the Indonesian government protested the distribution mechanism of the WHO, which was believed to cause a loss to countries hit by bird flu, as the result of stopping the sending of bird flue virus specimen to WHO laboratories.
The WHO had required countries hit by the disease to send a sample of the virus to WHO laboratories and any interested party can obtain the specimen to be used for various purposes, including the commercial production of vaccines without having to give a compensation to the countries where the specimen came from.
Because of the halt in the sending of the specimen which may disrupt continued research and risk prevention, the WHO on March 26 and 27 held a technical meeting in Jakarta to discuss the mechanism of the distribution of new specimen which could also guarantee the developing countries to have access to bird flu vaccines.