By Bayu Krisnamurthi 2nd
Jan 29, 2007, 05:29
First let us put a little bit of reflection on a couple of recent stories which show just how wrong Indonesia clearly have got their war on H5N1 bird flu. Late in 2006 Indonesian authorities proudly announced they were bringing in masses of Chinese bird flu vaccine to inoculate their poultry and other fowl. Of course many pointed out that because the Chinese variant of H5N1 was different to that in other countries, so called vaccines, apart from being questionable as to their efficiency in China, would likely not be of any use whatsoever in a country like Indonesia or Vietnam, which have other variants of H5N1. But it gets much worse than that for Indonesia, which now has vaccinated millions of chickens with the Chinese “vaccine”.
In January 2007, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Thai police seized a large quantity of illegally imported Chinese H5N1 flu vaccine for poultry worth an estimated US$700,000 from smugglers at a bus station in Koh Samui. Reports go on to state that the vaccine had actually been banned in Thailand “for fear its widespread use could cause the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus to mutate”. So Indonesia has been going round and injecting their chickens with something that might actually help the H5N1 virus mutate into something that could cause full blown human to human infections and with it a worldwide pandemic, or are we missing something? So ABC feels it is OK to report a failed attempt to unlawfully import this vaccine and the risks regarding Thailand, while saying nothing about the official folly in Indonesia? How wonderfully in line with government foreign policy Mr Newman (ABC’s new chairman)!
Of course the fact that the former Indonesian president (Megawati) apparently personally ordered the original cover up of H5N1 as a favour to the wealthy 5 Indonesian families who dominate the domestic Indonesian poultry market (see Megawati Corruption), shows Indonesia’s true mandate and provides probable cause for the lack of Australian media reporting; perhaps John Howard and company want to protect trade and personal investments in Indonesia by not embarrassing the government in Jakarta by more than cursory reference to such events. It seems the Australian and other western media want to treat Indonesia so gently, so diplomatically regarding bird flu despite the increasingly strengthening warnings by the World Health Organization. Why, news of the fact Jakarta has now announced a limited bird cull in and around the city some three years after the world was aghast the RI refused to conduct a country wide bird cull seems to have gone amiss by the Aussie hacks and cohorts. Amidst further evidence that H5N1 has mutated to the first level of human-to-human infection with so called “cluster cases” in Indonesia it seems the Australian Government and press are aware but chose to warn their public selectively, diplomatically. Recent news of opposition leader Kevin Rudd demanding immediate planning for an Australian human-to-human bird flu endemic plus one federal authority recommending citizens stock up with non-perishable food items as a bird flu outbreak is probable seem to suggest Canberra know what is going on but just don’t want to upset Jakarta’s untenable sense of pride.
You can tell Jakarta is full of BS born from the need to exude superiority when there is none, by the way facts get misreported or rather wobbled in Indonesia. Indonesian National Commission for Avian Influenza and Pandemic Preparedness head, Bayu Krisnamurthi, claimed recent human deaths from H5N1 had not come from mutated forms of the virus. But the problem for Bayu and his masters in government is that timescale wise, Indonesia clearly did not have time to ascertain this as a scientific fact, so his comments were clearly made up on the fly and “designed” to deflect an unpalatable situation. Yet more flu BS from the Jakarta government comes with details of the infections and bird culls, clearly to protect their perceived international image which they do not in reality have of course. We refer to the fact that a recent H5N1 death of a young boy in Jakarta was put down to his becoming infected when his father put down a sick chicken. “Here son, I have a really sick chicken, come with me and watch while I kill it by some method likely to spray the infection into the air for us to inhale!” We don’t think so. The boy clearly became infected either when the chicken was slaughtered for the kitchen or as it was digested that evening. You see, it is a fact Indonesians eat or sell infected animals for human consumption, which is why there are so many gastrointestinal problems in the archipelago; vis-à-vis Bali belly. Confirmation of this comes from a Jakarta Post article this week quoting the whinges of one chicken farmer who says he has eaten many sick chickens recently and does not have bird flu, so why all the fuss!
The next bit of Jakarta flu BS comes from the method and result of the so called “cull”. Seems the people of Jakarta are to bring their chickens and other birds not covered by license to be slaughtered without compensation voluntarily; only infected birds which are slaughtered are eligible for compensation! The 5 wealthy poultry conglomerates who successfully “lobbied” Megawati to deny H5N1 existed in Indonesia when it first appeared get “lucky” yet again as their birds are licensed which means protected, plus low and behold chicken meat prices have risen 30% in just a few days; so they are laughing! But the poor of Indonesia who keep chickens in their backyards and rely on them for eggs and meat are to bring their valuable livestock at their own expense to government “culling centres” where they are killed without compensation. Oh, of course, there has been a flood of people rushing to these centres! But what amazes us even more is what then happens to these slaughtered birds at the culling centre in Mampang, South Jakarta. Slaughtered birds deemed to be healthy are given to local children as free meat for human consumption. Of course, the cull operators know whether a bird has been infected with H5N1 or not. In fact, Indonesian authorities are so bad at detecting H5N1 in humans, given 5 people infected with the virus were found in a regular hospital recently, we think infected chickens would need to have “H5N1 positive” tattooed onto their heads in order for health officials to spot them!
Of course the WHO is especially worried right now about the potential for a second stage (human-to-human pandemic) H5N1 virus mutation given it is the traditional human flu season in Asia; where the greatest risk of mutation comes from someone who has human form flu also becoming infected with H5N1 from a diseased chicken where the 2 viruses mutate (join forces) to become the deadliest threat to human kind since the Black Death. What is perhaps worse is that the H5N1 thing has deflected attention away from large scale outbreaks in malaria and dengue fever in Indonesia recently. Such outbreaks are due to the fact mosquitoes are able to find dirty, stagnant water, like the kind you find everywhere in Bali’s disgusting, litter filled canals (around Denpasar / Sanur / Legian) and backwaters (like Jimbaran where wholesale unlawful effluence dumping goes on). A recent breakout of exceptionally painful and disfiguring dengue (see above photo) has killed at least 28 people in just 3 Javanese provinces in January 2007 alone. Cirebon in West Java and Malang in East Java (yes, that is very near to Bali) are particularly badly affected or rather infected with one hospital reporting it had treated at least 300 dengue fever patients this month already. If Indonesia can not get its act together with regard to simple effluence dumping and littering law enforcement because the police can’t make money from these to be bothered enough to act, they hardly are going to be effective against a flu virus as there is no corruption potential in culling poor people's chickens either.
It is also a fact Bali’s authorities and tourism industry deliberately suppress any news of malaria, dengue and H5N1 infections on the island "paradise" as this would cost them tourist revenue; the owners of Bali BS know of many foreign visitors who have become infected and suffered terribly from malaria and the like. Think about it, the WHO reports the whole of Indonesia is malarial, has dengue and H5N1 yet Indonesia only ever reports instances in non-tourist areas, often directly adjacent to Bali and Lombok! So the viruses are westerner and tourist friendly, and do not ever dare come near holidaymakers? The most you will ever get from Balinese and Indonesian officials about malaria, etc. in Bali when news gets out of infections is that a few locals have contracted the disease in Denpasar, no doubt on the basis not many tourists visit Denpasar. Of course Denpasar has a seamless border with Sanur, Seminyak, Legian and Kuta, so the unusually very considerate mosquitoes, infected chicken meat vendors and viruses check their local maps and say “Oh no, don’t go and infect people there, we might accidentally infect a tourist!”
It is a fact mosquito born diseases like dengue are easy to control; you just stop dumping human effluence and leaving rubbish everywhere for "mossies" to breed in. It is a fact the Indonesian Government has lied about H5N1. It is a fact the Indonesian Government refused to take WHO advice. It is a fact the Indonesian authorities clearly dangerously do not know what they are doing. It is a fact wealthy poultry farmers are being made exempt from any cull. It is a fact poor Indonesians are not going to voluntarily hand over their valuable live stock. It is a fact human-to-human H5N1 cases have occurred in Indonesia. It is a fact Indonesians eat or sell infected meat for human consumption. It is a fact Indonesia’s health service is one of the worst in the world. It is a fact Indonesia leads the world in H5N1 infections and deaths, and that is just based on official statistics which we all know are false; the actual figure is much, much higher. It is a fact that H5N1 is not just confined to a small area in Indonesia; it is everywhere with Sulawesi now confirming multiple cases. It is a fact countries like Australia have talked about sealing borders in the event of an H5N1 human pandemic. The Philippines are already screening arrivals for H5N1. If you get caught in Indonesia and H5N1 mutates and spreads, good luck to you, you will need it.