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At a glance: Indonesia

UNICEF Indonesia supports community bird flu prevention programme

© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Purnomo
Women and children of Curug village celebrate the launch of the Avian Influenza Kit, a simple tool that helps empower people in the fight against bird flu.

By Suzanna Dayne

CURUG VILLAGE, Indonesia, 16 July 2007 – Hundreds of residents of Curug village were joined by senior officials and UNICEF representatives last week for the provincial launch of the Avian Influenza (AI) Kit, a simple tool that helps empower people in the fight against bird flu.

Curug is one of the thousands of villages across Java and Sulawesi that are holding community meetings to discuss bird flu and, with the AI Kits, demonstrate simple steps that everyone can take to stay safe from infection.

Each kit includes a mask, gloves, soap, educational materials and videos about bird flu prevention – plus a giant banner that each village can put up to remind people to be careful.

The kits, funded by Japan, have been developed by UNICEF in close cooperation with Indonesia’s National Committee for Avian Influenza and Pandemic Preparedness. One hundred thousand AI Kits are being distributed in Java and Sulawesi, and plans are in the works to send more to Sumatra and Bali.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Purnomo
Vice Governor of Banten province H.M. Masduki showed his support by distributing Avian Influenza Kits to village leaders.

Six-year-old is latest fatality

One highlight of the 11 July event in Curug was a declaration from village leaders to continue the fight against bird flu. This commitment includes helping residents keep their poultry in a clean environment, with increased government support for village leaders.

Indonesia now ranks number-one in the world for bird flu cases. To date, 102 people have contracted the virus, and 81 of them have died. The latest fatality, on 8 July, was a six-year-old boy from Cilegon in Banten Province. Initial reports say it is not clear how the child contracted the virus because the family did not keep poultry.

“Bird flu is a serious problem here in Indonesia,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Willem Standaert. “The virus strikes without warning and affects people from all walks of life, including children, who account for some 40 per cent of all cases.

“That is why UNICEF is working closely with Indonesia’s National Avian Influenza Committee to raise public awareness, so everyone has the information they need to reduce their risk of contracting the virus,” he added.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2007/Purnomo
A young boy holds a sign that contains information about bird flu prevention during the launch of the Avian Influenza Kit.

Public awareness campaign

There are more than 30 million backyard farmers in Indonesia, and most raise free-range poultry. Experts say caging is key to stopping the spread of the virus. The challenge is to make sure everyone knows that.

“I own 40 chickens and ducks and always cage them,” said one Curug resident, Mr. Rochmat. “I am very concerned about bird flu and want to protect my family.”

The AI Kit is just one part of the public awareness campaign. This year, with funding from Canada, UNICEF will produce new public service announcements, conduct media workshops, facilitate pandemic planning and – most important – hold more community meetings and workshops with local leaders and the general public to prevent bird flu in Indonesia.




13 July 2007:
UNICEF’s Suzanna Dayne reports on community-based efforts to prevent bird flu infection in Indonesian villages.
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