Bangladesh gears up bird flu preparedness program 2008-06-09 14:08:32   Print

    DHAKA, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The Bangladesh caretaker government has geared up bird flu preparedness programs across the country after the first case of human infection was identified in a child in May.

    The government has set up isolation units at different district hospitals and expanded its existing surveillance network, leading English newspaper The Independent reported on Monday.

    Health authorities are maintaining strong vigilance to avert any outbreak of this virulent H5N1 virus that passes from birds tohuman.

    The Construction, Maintenance and Management Unit (CMMU) under the health ministry has been instructed by the government to build isolation units at 33 district level public hospitals.

    In each hospital, there are at least four beds to treat patients infected with avian influenza, Mahmudur Rahman, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) was quoted as saying.

    "We have expanded our surveillance program in 18 more district hospitals in addition to the existing 12 where surveillance started amid the first outbreak of bird flu in March 2007, he said.

    As part of the preparedness program for tackling human infection of H5N1, "we have stocked a large number of anti-viral drug and protective equipment," he said.

    To diagnose the infection, the government has established a laboratory with "real-time polymerase chain reaction", a rapid method for diagnosis of all kinds of influenza viruses. And the machinery for the laboratory will be procured soon.

    With the assistance of international financial institutions and lending agencies, the government has already trained a large number of health professionals and people on bird flu.

    There are 12-member teams in districts and four-member teams at the sub-district level for rapid action that have been working around the country.

    "We organized different training programs to keep the members of this rapid response team up-to-date, Mahmudur Rahman said.

    Besides, there are about 226,100 volunteers at the unions (under sub-district), 50 from each union, who are working to create mass awareness, he said, adding that they are visiting door to door with messages and leaflets.

    The first bird flu in human body was detected on May 21. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, diagnosed a 16-month-old Bangladesh child as being infected with H5N1.

    The country's first bird flu case was detected in March 2007 in poultry. About 287 farms with confirmed H5N1 virus cases were reported in 47 districts till May 21 this year, according to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.

    The government has so far culled more than 1.6 million fowl and destroyed about 2.2 million eggs across he country.

Editor: Du Guodong
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