Fighting Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)
On October 13th, 2005, the Joint Government-United Nations Programme, supported by the Governments of Australia, Finland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland and UK was signed “to prevent and control diseases of epidemic potential, with the focus on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).” The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and Ministry of Health (MOH) execute the Joint Programme with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI).
Implementation of the six-month emergency phase to prevent and control the spread of the virus in humans and animals is now underway.
Information, Education and Communication (IEC) is a crucial component of the emergency phase in particular, and the programme in general, aimed at increasing public knowledge and awareness of HPAI and changing behaviors for effective control and prevention efforts. UNICEF leads this important component with active participation of MARD, MOH, MOCI and the participating UN agencies in the Joint Gov-UN Programme.
A one-day workshop was held on 29 November 2005 to develop a comprehensive, consistent and effective set of key actions and messages as an integral part of a joint communication IEC & Behavior Change Framework. Technical experts from key ministries (including MARD, MOH, MOET, MOCI), WHO, FAO, UNDP, UNICEF and NGOs, INGOs and other stakeholders, attended the workshop.
The upcoming annual lunar festival of TET has been identified as a critical time for the potential transmission of HPAI given the associated cultural practices of poultry movement, slaughter and consumption. Within this context and with the immediate, short and longer-term need to ensure consistency of information, the workshop agreed 3 essential facts and 4 key actions:
2) Bird flu can be transmitted from poultry to humans
3) Not all infected birds show symptoms of bird flu – Your poultry at home could be infected without you knowing.