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04 March 2008
Indonesian Government Asks for Virus Not to be Abused by WHO

The Indonesian government has received a guarantee that the 15 bird flu virus (H5N1) samples that have been sent to the World Health Organization (WHO) were only to be examined for risk assessment, as to whether the virus is resistant to oseltamivir or not.

“Before the virus was sent, we already had the risk assessment guarantee letter,” said Siti Fadilah Supari, Health Minister, at her residence, Jalan Denpasar, Kuningan, Jakarta, two days ago (1/3).

According to Minister Siti, the bird flu virus samples were sent along with the material transfer agreement (MTA) that the government proposed be signed by the WHO.

If the WHO is willing to sign it, then the government will send more virus samples.

“Otherwise, the government will struggle again,” said Minister Siti.
According to her, the dispatch was a test as to whether the WHO will approve the MTA or not.

In December 2006, the government stopped sending bird flu virus samples.

This policy was taken to prevent multinational companies from using Indonesian virus samples to develop vaccines with a high sales price.

Minister Siti said that with the MTA, the bird flu virus sample dispatch mechanism is more transparent and fair in terms of responsibility towards the virus sending country.

The government's desire to change the mechanism, according to her, is not only useful for bird flu cases but also other diseases.

Under the old mechanism, virus samples were prone to be misused and
could therefore spread again in Indonesia and cause a new cases.

This is because the bird flu virus spread in Indonesia is inappropriate with epidemiology.

“This needs a great deal of attention,” said Minister Siti.

With the new mechanism, she said, the government has tried to overcome the large number of bird flu case in Indonesia.

“With transparency, what ever the virus is used for can be known,” said Minister Siti.

C.A. Nidom, Head of the Avian Influenza Tropical Disease Center Laboratory at Airlangga University, supported the government's measure to start sending bird flu virus samples.

According to him, the government needs to prioritize the bird flu handling in the country instead of fighting for the right in the MTA process at the WHO.

“What we're facing are human lives and the world's community,” said Nidom when contacted yesterday (2/3).

source :
Margahayu Land

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