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Informing Families is Best Defense Against Bird Flu

Preventing the spread of avian influenza depends on getting critical information to families and children urgently

TBILISI, 2 March, 2006UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Science has developed various types of leaflets and posters on Bird Flu to be disseminated among schools throughout the country. The Ministry of Education and Science has already started the distribution of the materials to schoolchildren. UNICEF Georgia is now in the process of developing TV and radio spots on Bird Flu.  

“As the first stage, UNICEF has produced 300 000 copies of informative leaflets of different types, for families and for children below and above 10. We have also developed 2500 copies of posters being now distributed to schools”, says Ms Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Georgia, “UNICEF thinks that families and especially children are at the frontline of a possible outbreak of the disease and therefore it is extremely important to provide them with key facts on avian influenza prevention”.

Worldwide children account for nearly half (45 percent) of reported human cases of avian influenza, according to data from six of the seven countries that have confirmed human cases.

One reason children may be at risk for the infection is that they often care for domestic poultry by feeding them, cleaning pens and gathering eggs. Children may also have closer contact with poultry as they often treat them as pets.

Families need to know the importance of:

  • reporting sick or dead birds to the local authorities; 
  • keeping birds away from children and living areas;
  • washing your hands often with soap and water to kill and remove the virus;
  • eating only fully-cooked poultry
    • .

    Under the technical leadership of WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF is working closely with the government to provide families with the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves and their birds from avian influenza. UNICEF is harnessing its extensive on-the-ground networks to deliver critical life-saving messages.

    Since 2003, the H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread from Asia to Europe and the Middle East and now to Africa, affecting nearly 30 countries.  Over 140 million domestic birds have been destroyed at an estimated cost of over US $10 billion.

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    For further information, please contact:

    Maya Kurtsikidze, Communications Officer, UNICEF Georgia

    Tel: (995 32) 23 23 88, 25 11 30, Fax: (995 32) 25 12 36

    e-mail: mkurtsikidze@unicef.org, mob: (995 99) 53 30 71

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