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Indonesia Lacks Funds to Fight Flu, World Bank Says
posted by admin on 13/06/06

The government needed to improve surveillance of poultry stocks.

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia's fight against bird flu is underfunded and poorly coordinated, the World Bank said, urging the government to be more aggressive in culling fowl in infected areas.

The bank, in a report to be released today to Indonesia's biggest aid donors, also said the government needed to improve surveillance of poultry stocks to better detect outbreaks of the disease and to modify its vaccination program.

Indonesia has said it will need $900 million over the next three years to fight the H5N1 virus, which has killed at least 37 people in the nation, but has budgeted only $59 million for 2006.

"The current allocation of donor funds, about $55 million, does not correct this imbalance," the bank said yesterday, adding that it is "unclear how the government of Indonesia intends to finance the shortfall."

Bird flu has killed at least 128 people world-wide since late 2003.

So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form more easily transmissible between humans, potentially sparking a pandemic that could kill millions world-wide.

Indonesia trails only Vietnam, where 42 people have died, in human bird-flu deaths and the H5N1 virus is considered endemic in poultry in most provinces across the sprawling archipelago.

"But surveillance coverage is limited and generally unreliable to detect outbreaks," the bank said, adding that "control measures, including vaccination and culling of infected stocks are seriously underfinanced and fraught with implementation problems."

Mass culling of poultry in infected areas is one of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's most basic containment guidelines, but Indonesia has said it can't afford to compensate farmers.

The World Bank also expressed concern about a recent cluster of cases on Sumatra island, which has raised suspicions of limited human-to-human transmission.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press

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