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Jakarta Post

Indonesia struggling to curb bird flu by 2020

  • Liza Yosephine
    Liza Yosephine

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 17, 2016   /  12:08 pm
Indonesia struggling to curb bird flu by 2020 A farmer holds up a dead chicken at a henhouse in Keude Birem village, East Aceh regency, Aceh, on April 19. Rising cases of bird flu in the area are causing losses for farmers. (Antara /Syifa Yulinnas)

Indonesia needs to improve efforts at both government and community levels in eradicating avian influenza to be free of the disease by its 2020 target, experts have said.

Around 40 percent of poultry products sampled at traditional markets in Greater Jakarta showed high levels of bird flu contamination, James McGrane, the team leader of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) Indonesia, said on Monday.

The organization, which conducts joint monitoring with the government under the Live Bird Market (LBM) surveillance framework, found that most outbreaks occurred during transportation within the market chain.

"The government will have to invest more over the next four years if further progress is to be made on the eradication of the disease by the target of 2020," McGrane said.

Indonesia needs to focus on greater outreach and technical advice for poultry farmers while also continuing to monitor the circulation of the virus. Furthermore, the government needs to ensure that locally produced vaccines are well matched and give good protection, he added.

The implementation of biosecurity in the market chain as well as on poultry farms, which separates areas into three zones – dirty, intermediate and clean – has proven successful in keeping avian influenza out of farms.

"[A] combination of good vaccination and improved farm biosecurity can assist poultry farmers to protect their flocks and to maintain their profits and the profitability of their farms," McGrane said.

The center will continue to work together with the government as a new USAID-supported program has recently been implemented to assist in addressing the issue.

Aside from bird flu, the latest program called Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT-2) will focus on the investigation and detection of other disease threats that may emerge in the wildlife, livestock and human interface across the nation in the next four years, McGrane said.

The Agriculture Ministry's director of animal health services I Ketut Diarmita said the government realized that it needed an extreme change of strategy in order to be free of bird flu by 2020.

He noted that farmers' awareness of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) threat had reduced in recent years, leading to negligence in maintenance.

Knowledge of improved poultry husbandry was also still low in backyard and commercial poultry farms, he said. The ministry acknowledged the low awareness of correct and effective vaccination practices and implementing adequate farm biosecurity.

"There needs to be consistency and an approach with a focus of eradication systematically per region," Diarmita said.

However, the government cannot afford to conduct mass depopulation in poultry farms as complete monetary compensation to farmers cannot be determined.

Recent data showed an unexpected increase in poultry infected by the HPAI subtype H5N1 in Indonesia, with 148 cases detected in the first four months of 2016, a rise from 123 cases throughout the whole of 2015.

The increased rate is due to inadequate vaccination of poultry flocks, which is exacerbated by extreme weather changes that decreases poultry's resistance to disease, Diarmita said. (rin)

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