Govt rolls up sleeves to
anticipate bird flu outbreak

JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

The Health Ministry says it has taken necessary measures to anticipate a possible bird flu outbreak, such as by ensuring the availability of medical workers, community health centers, hospitals and antiviral drugs.

The ministry's head of animal-borne infectious disease control, Rita Kusriastuti, said that her ministry had prepared 100 hospitals with bird flu treatment facilities, including in all but one of the 32 provinces across the archipelago.

Rita said that the ministry had trained its staffers on how to survey bird-flu medical facilities as well and had trained medical workers how to recognize bird flu symptoms.

Rita added that her ministry had also cooperated with a research consortium led by the University of Indonesia’s School of Medicine to work on a prototype of a bird flu vaccine.

Thejakartapost/Andi Hajramurni

So far, the ministry has distributed the antiviral drug oseltamivir to community health clinics in 13 endemic provinces: Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Central Java, Jogjakarta, East Java, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Riau, Lampung, Bali and South Sulawesi. In other non-endemic provinces, oseltamivir is provided at respective provincial health agency.

Dr Fera Ibrahim, coordinator of a research consortium for bird flu vaccines said that currently there were some DNA prototypes of a bird-flu vaccine based on genetic research.

The prototype has been tested on house mice, which showed immune response. Now the prototype is being evaluated to obtain the most effective composition for the vaccine.

“If everything falls into place, the vaccine will be available for mass consumption within four to five years to come,” Fera was quoted by Kompas.com. (han)

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