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At a glance: Indonesia

Taking action against bird flu in Indonesia

UNICEF Image: Indonesia: Take Action Against Bird Flu
© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Purnomo
More than 10,000 people gathered in Gowa, Indonesia on 22 September in support of a nationwide bird flu awareness campaign.

 By Suzanna Dayne

SOUTH SULAWESI, Indonesia, 10 October 2006 – More than 10,000 people gathered in the rural town of Gowa recently for a celebrity-hosted event to raise awareness about avian influenza. It was part of a UNICEF-supported campaign called Tanggap Flu Burung, or 'Take Action against Bird Flu'.

The highlight of the evening was a concert featuring popular local singers who urged the crowd to spread the word that everyone must try to stop the deadly virus.

The audience members jumped to their feet and raised their hands in the air. Repeating the theme of the concert, they chanted: "Our hands protect us from bird flu." The chorus swelled when word spread through the crowd that an 11-year-old child had become the country’s 50th bird flu fatality.

UNICEF Image: Indonesia: Take Action Against Bird Flu
© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Purnomo
Indonesian celebrities performed at a UNICEF-supported concert for the Take Action Against Bird Flu campaign. The theme of the event: 'Our hands protect us from bird flu.'

Four basic messages

The Take Action Against Bird Flu campaign, which has received funding from the Government and people of Japan, was launched on 1 September in Jakarta. It includes a nationwide advertising strategy with public service announcements and community events like the concert in Gowa.

Take Action Against Bird Flu has four basic messages:

  • Do not touch sick or dying birds
  • Wash your hands before eating and cook poultry well
  • Separate new birds from the flock for two weeks
  • Seek medical attention if you have a fever and flu-like symptoms, especially after contact with birds.
UNICEF Image: Indonesia: Take Action Against Bird Flu
© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Purnomo
Kartini, 28, notified authorities after discovering dead chickens in her backyard.

Raising public awareness

More than 30 million households in Indonesia own chickens, posing a big challenge in the battle against bird flu. UNICEF is working closely with Indonesia’s National Commission on Avian Influenza, as well as local governments, to raise public awareness and give communities the tools they need to protect themselves.

In Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi, UNICEF held a workshop where more than 2,000 village leaders were educated about the dangers of bird flu. The leaders are now equipped to pass on this critical information to their communities.

And the programme is working. Just days after the workshop, Kartini, 28, notified authorities that she had discovered dead chickens in her backyard. That same day, her husband came down with the flu. Kartini reported his illness to the local health centre and her husband was given a course of Tamiflu – which, in order to be as effective as possible, should be started within 24 hours of a diagnosis.

With the onset of avian influenza, the way sick birds are handled will have to change. Kartini knows she did the right thing by immediately taking action.

Kyria Abrahams contributed to this story from New York.




10 October 2006:
UNICEF's Suzanna Dayne reports on the 'Take Action against Bird Flu' campaign in Indonesia.
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