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Avian influenza assistance program for Indonesia.

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MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Health and Ageing

Tony Abbott MHR

25 June 2006 ABB093/06

Avian influenza assistance program for Indonesia

In Jakarta today I was pleased to sign an agreement with the Indonesian Government governing Australia’s new $10 million emergency avian influenza assistance program.

The signing of this agreement, with the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, symbolizes the strong partnership between Indonesia and Australia in combating the threat of avian influenza.

This program will focus on: • strengthening Indonesia’s network of national, regional and provincial animal health labs • boosting Indonesia’s internal quarantine systems to prevent spread of the disease to avian influenza-free parts of the country

• supporting village-level surveillance and outbreak control to reduce infections in backyard poultry.

Containing the spread of the H5N1 virus in animals is critical to preventing an avian influenza pandemic in humans. This is why we have prioritised animal health activities in our new program. We welcome the meeting of experts from the World Health Organization, UN Food and Agriculture Organization and other international agencies in Jakarta this week to conduct an urgent study of measures to reduce avian influenza in Indonesia.

Australia will be providing financial assistance of $250,000 to support the operations of Indonesia’s newly created National Avian Influenza Commission.

This commission, headed by Minister Bakrie and comprising representatives from all relevant ministries, has the task of co-ordinating Indonesia’s efforts to control avian influenza. This $10 million commitment is in addition to the $5.5 million in Australian funding allocated during 2005.

These funds, provided largely through WHO, are already supporting the Ministry of Health with high priority needs including: • support for rapid outbreak response teams to investigate all suspected human avian influenza cases

• purchasing 50,000 courses of the antiviral medication Tamiflu • developing a national Pandemic Preparedness Plan and providing input to the National Strategy for the Control of Avian Influenza in Indonesia.

Australia has now pledged a total of $15.5 million in avian influenza assistance in Indonesia. This assistance, and the agreement signed today, demonstrates the practical ways that Indonesia and Australia are working together to achieve joint solutions to joint problems.

Media contact: Kate Miranda, Office of Tony Abbott, 0417 425 227