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Ciptapangan Visitor
INDONESIA: Students spreading bird flu message
posted by admin on 15/12/06

Tangerang --- The Indonesian Youth Forum on Tuesday visited a traditional market in Cipuka, Tangerang, as part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about bird flu.

The group, sponsored by the Agriculture Ministry, hit the road on Dec. 1, encouraging people in Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Bandar Lampung and Denpasar to stop worrying and eat chicken.

The World Health Organization says chicken and other poultry are safe to eat if cooked well.

Cooking poultry throughout, so that no meat remains raw or red, kills the virus.

"We want to meet consumers, chicken traders, chicken enthusiasts and slaughterhouse managers to share tips and information so they can protect themselves against bird flu," forum founder Elmir Amien told The Jakarta Post at Cikupa market.

Elmir is also the chairman of the Indonesian Farmers Council.

"Since the country's first case of bird flu was reported in 2003, the disease has only killed 53 of the 76 people infected, but the poultry industry has incurred huge financial losses because exaggerated media reports have made people too scared to eat eggs and chicken," he said.

Since 2003, avian influenza has killed more than 150 people around the globe. Indonesia has confirmed 74 cases of infection and 57 deaths.

"Bird flu is not as dangerous as TB or even crossing the road," Elmir said.

He said the rate of animal-protein consumption in the country had decreased to four kilograms per capita per year, as a result of many months of intense media coverage of avian influenza.

Elmir compared this with Malaysia's animal-protein consumption of 40 kilogram per capita per year.

"Therefore, we must continue to educate the people so they aren't so paranoid about eating chicken and eggs," he said.

Dozens of students from Bogor Institute of Agriculture, the University of Indonesia, Jakarta University, Trisakti University, Jayabaya University and Pramadina University participated in the campaign Wednesday.

Other than talking with traders and shoppers, the students cleaned and disinfected all chicken coops in the market and put up posters reading, "the eggs and poultry sold here are free from avian influenza".

Didi Aswadi, the head of the Tangerang regency health agency, which facilitated the activity, said the agency had similar targets to the central government's in combating bird flu.

"We just want to make a contribution to accelerate the government's bird flu prevention and control efforts. This campaign is one of nine steps prepared by the government to reach its target," he told the Post.

He said there was no need for people to be afraid of eating poultry products.

"From now on, let's eat chicken and eggs because they are high in nutrients, which will help our children grow up healthy and smart."

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