January 29, 2004



Indonesia Criticised For Allowing Bird Flu Hit Chicken Sales


Indonesia has come under heavy criticism for refusing to take measures to curb the spread of bird flu in the country. The Indonesian government has yet to ban sales of chicken meat from bird flu infected farms.


Agriculture official Budi Tri Akoso said Indonesia so far has only suggested culling if farmers can afford it.


"It hasn't been that the Indonesian government doesn't want to do the culling. Culling takes a lot of effort to do," Akoso said at an international meeting in Bangkok to discuss the bird flu outbreak.


Indonesia is one of 10 Asian countries hit by the deadly disease, which has already killed at least 10 people in the region.


He said many farmers have already culled their flocks, but it was up to individual farmers.


"It seems the Indonesians are not yet convinced of the effectiveness of culling," said Kumara Rai, director of communicable diseases at WHO's Southeast Asia office.


"Maybe they're thinking of the economic and social consequences," he said, noting that Indonesia is now gearing up for an election.


After weeks of denials, Indonesia announced Sunday that avian influenza was rampant in the country, but said it had not infected any humans.


The government also said it has no plans for a nationwide cull, saying such a move would be ineffective.


But the World Organization for Animal Health has said culling is the best solution. The WHO agrees.


"I'm going to Indonesia," Rai said. "Hopefully they will change their minds."

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