Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why CARE's programs educate the community on how to report

This letter was published in the Jakarta Post - It's the frustrations of an expat living in Bali who tried to report a dead bird in his back yard.

Often, there' s big disconnect between the national system for surveillance and communities. The story also highlights the need for avian flu response to be multisectoral - this man called the hospital, police, media and his village chief! None of them knew how to report a dead bird!

"On Aug. 26 I found a dead wild bird in my yard. I am living in Bali near the area where bird flu related deaths have occurred. Since I was worried about the possible risk connected with dead birds, I tried to contact some authority to guide me on how to handle this situation.

I tried to reach the main hospital in Bali, Sanglah, and the answer was to go there if sick but they do not know anything regarding dead birds or chickens.

Next I tried to contact 110, the emergency number of the police: there was no answer. I tried then with the health and animal departments: again no answer.

I then called a newspaper office and spoke with a journalist there: she did not know of any special procedure in place to handle the bird flu-related problems neither she was aware of any emergency number.

I tried then to contact the head of my village (in the Kerobokan area) and his reaction was: "Just bury the bird, there is no problem." How would he know?

Eventually I obtained, through a friend, the personal cell phone number of a doctor nice enough to put me in touch with two nice guys from the animal department who came to my house to check the bird four hours after I began my search for information. Well this does not seem anywhere near a coordinated response to the bird flu problem."

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