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  • Bird flu stalking Tanzanian communities, govt...

    Bird flu stalking Tanzanian communities, govt...

    2007-09-24 09:00:33
    By Anaclet Rwegayura, PST, Addis Ababa

    <!--table for inserting images --><!-- end table for inserting images-->The government has warned that Tanzania was still at the risk of avian flu, and urged the general public to understand the disease and adopt basic hygiene practices for self-protection.

    Livestock Development deputy minister Charles Mlingwa said in Addis Ababa last week that though Tanzania was prepared for any eventuality with regard to bird flu, an outbreak of the highly pathogenic disease could have serious socio-economic repercussions on domestic poultry production and public health.

    Addressing the third general assembly and executive meeting of the African Livestock Development (ALive) platform, Mlingwa said a multisectoral emergency preparedness and response plan was already in place to deal with bird flu in the country.

    The plan had seven main components that included capacity for early warning detection, capacity to contain avian flu at source, reduction of opportunity for human infection, improvement of awareness and information, research and coordination.

    However, inadequate funding had curtailed implementation of the plan, Mlingwa said.

    As a result it was currently focused on surveillance, detection and diagnosis of the disease, public education and awareness.

    Underlining the safe handling of birds, the deputy minister said parents and teachers should tell children not to touch sick birds.

    Wildlife, environment and forestry workers too had to be informed about the risks of highly pathogenic avian flu, how to protect themselves and how to report to proper authorities for action, he said.

    `The biggest group of all people in contact with poultry � livestock farmers and poultry keepers � needs to change behaviour as they are the greatest risk group,` Mlingwa added.

    Partnership programmes were under way in several African countries to prevent and control avian and human influenza epidemics.

    For its laboratory strengthening, Tanzania had so far received USD700,000 from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and USD100, 000 from UNICEF for public awareness creation.

    In addition, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation had provided the Tanzanian government with USD40,000 for surveillance, diagnosis and protective gear to strengthen the capacity to prevent and control highly pathogenic avian influenza.
    • SOURCE: Guardian