Indonesian government health officials in the midst of large-scale criticism over the country's efforts to stamp out bird flu have announced that the government plans of mass vaccination today. Indonesia has the world's highest human
The death toll from the disease is the highest in the world and scientists and the World Bank have urged Jakarta to give precedence for controlling the H5N1 virus that is endemic in birds in 29 of the country's 33 provinces.
Zulkarnain Hassan, the coordinator for the Avian Influenza Crisis Center at the agriculture ministry, has said that they plan to vaccinate 60 million poultry nationwide in the next 3 months before December. He said, "Vaccine procurement will be completed this month. After September, mass vaccinations will be conducted."
The Antara state news agency had claimed that another official from the agriculture ministry on Monday said that the country has procured 91 million doses of bird flu vaccine from China. It was reported that last week the government had launched a nationwide campaign in an effort to improve public awareness, they further cautioned the people that the threat from the disease would be likely to increase when the wet season starts in October.
Experts and critics have claimed that public ignorance, along with official ineptness and lack of money, are the major hindrance in the efforts to stamp out the disease in the country with over 220 million people.
Experts world over are of the fear that bird flu though predominantly an animal disease could mutate into a form that can pass easily among humans, which could possibly kill millions. It has to be stated here that so far Indonesia has refused to conduct mass culling of poultry, giving reasons of expense and logistical difficulties in capturing and killing millions of backyard fowl.
The World Bank has been trying to influence Jakarta in increasing her budget after it had allocated $46.5 million to fight bird flu in 2007, which has been a reduction from $57.37 million that has been slated for this year. Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla had stated last week the government hoped to secure about $100 million to fight bird flu next year.