Monday, September 12, 2005

Indonesia: working hard but not working smart

The Indonesian Health Minister, Siti Fadillah Supari, is sending a surveillance team to do contact tracing of the recent death of a 37 year old woman in Jakarta from suspected bird flu, the fourth fatality and fifth case in the country.

This same Minister has been asserting, against all evidence, that there is no reason to suspect human to human transmission in any of the Indonsian cases, so we wonder why she is bothering. WHO has told her to expect more human cases because the disease is endemic in the poultry population in Indonesia. Despite this, Indonesia has resisted mass culling, which WHO believes is the best strategy.

So, how is Indonesia doing as far as WHO is concerned? Here is Dr Steven Bjorge's assessment. He is technical officer of emerging diseases at the WHO office in Jakarta:
"As far as my confidence (in) the Indonesian response from the health side, I know that people are working very hard."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.