Indonesia seeks expert help with bird flu problem, but faces major challenge

INDONESIA - Some of the world's leading influenza experts will gather in Jakarta this week to assess the worrisome avian flu situation in Indonesia, where human cases of H5N1 infection have mounted at a disturbing rate over the past year.

Observers say the expert consultation, taking place at the request of the Indonesian government, is a welcome sign of that country's concern about the threat H5N1 poses both for its citizens and the global community.

"I think calling this meeting is a step towards recognizing that they have got a problem and they do have a responsibility to the rest of the world in terms of trying to deal with it," says Lance Jennings, a virologist and epidemiologist at Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand.

"I think it's a positive move and will lead to improved understanding," adds Jennings, who last year participated in a similar World Health Organization-led assessment of the H5N1 problem in Vietnam.

Indonesia's National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness asked the WHO and its animal health counterpart, the Food and Agriculture Organization, to bring a variety of experts to Indonesia to study the scope of the problem and make recommendations on how best to attack it.

Leading experts such as Dr. Keiji Fukuda, co-ordinator of WHO's global flu program, Dr. Nancy Cox, head of the influenza branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and Dr. Malik Peiris of Hong Kong University will take part in the three-day review, which begins Wednesday.

Source: The Brandon Sun
calendar icon 19 June 2006
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