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MOZAMBIQUE - Pandemic Preparedness

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  • MOZAMBIQUE - Pandemic Preparedness

    Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique
    July 4, 2006

    Maputo -- Mozambican Health Minister Ivo Garrido launched on Monday a surveillance campaign against bird flu, caused by the H5N1 virus.

    Addressing Mozambican reporters, Garrido called for the education of citizens on the measures to be taken because "this is essential to check this disease in case of an outbreak in the country".

    To guarantee the success of this campaign, particularly in the rural areas, the authorities count on the collaboration of the district governments, who should immediately report any occurrence of the disease.

    Speaking of the possibility of an outbreak of bird flu in Mozambique, Garrido said that the country is vulnerable, since it is on the migration routes of many wild birds.

    "There is a high risk of Mozambique being affected, but not a single case has been reported yet. However, we must be on the alert because of what we see happening in other countries", said Garrido.

    While the disease is spreading in other countries, Mozambique is working with its cooperation partners to acquire medicines to check the spread of bird flu in the event of an outbreak.

    "There is a strong commitment on the part of our partners in case an outbreak does occur", said the Minister. "We do not have medicines and vaccines, because we are not yet in an epidemic situation, but we have the diagnosis capacity at national level.

    We are also counting on the regional laboratory in South Africa for analysis".

    For his part, the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), El Hadi Benzerroug, called for a good surveillance programme, an efficient information and communication system, and the mobilization of the people, as essential conditions to check the spread of this disease in any country.

    WHO has made available to all countries the "Tamiflu" vaccine, which is currently in use to check the spread of H5N1.

    The first case of the disease in Africa was reported in Nigeria, and has, so far, led to the slaughter of 40,000 chickens. Other cases were later detected in Ivory Coast, Niger, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Sudan, and Djibouti.

    Bird flu is caused by a virus that occurs naturally in birds, and it easily spreads through migratory and domestic birds. The virus is transmissible to other animals and humans through poultry secretions or faeces, which can infect equipment, fertiliser, vehicles, and other objects.

    This Mozambican campaign was launched at a time when the South African authorities have put a Western Cape farm into quarantine after notification of an outbreak of the disease, caused by the less dangerous H5N2 virus.

    As a preventive measure, the South African authorities ordered the slaughter of about 60 ostriches on that farm.