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PIA Press Release

NegOr steps up avian flu preparedness measures

By Rachelle Nessia

Dumaguete City (27 April) -- Local government units in the province are urged to to remain vigilant in its implementation of preventive measures against avian influenza in their areas despite the bird flu-free status of the country.

This was stressed by Rennan Cimafranca, Epdimiology Nurse of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas in his recent visit in Negros Oriental.

Cimafranca was one of the invited resource speakers during the Provincial Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan workshop held by the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) from April 24 to 27, 2007.

The epidemiology nurse said that 2007 is a critical year for in the avian influenza (AI) timetable. "This year, we fall within the 30 to 40-year pandemic cycle of AI. The last pandemic was in 1968, so this year we should not be complacent," Cimfranca said.

Even if the country passes the pandemic cycle period unscathed, Cimfranca warned that the preventive measures should still continue to be implemented. "The AI virus is very unpredictable, there is no reason for us to relax just yet," he said.

He also urged local chief executives to give priority to local measures against avian influenza. "Sadly, there are still some LGUs that do not have a working avian flu preparedness plan," he lamented.

Recently, the Department of Health has stepped up its conduct of awareness campaigns for key players in the government's avian influenza prevention and control program.

Cimfranca said that DOH representatives in the cities and towns in Negros Oriental were the first in Region 7 to undergo awareness training on avian influenza.

Citing the public's low level of awareness on avian flu, he said there is a need for the basic information on avian flu prevention to be disseminated down to the grassroots level. "The public is not yet really well-informed so there is still a need for more extensive information dissemination. Wala pa gani naabot sa barangay level gyud ang awareness," said Cimafranca.

He also cautioned media to be careful in its reporting of alleged suspected AI cases, which can cause undue panic in the community.

The Negros Oriental provincial government recently held a one-day Integrated Veterinary and Human Health for Avian/Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Planning/Workshop for local government units here.

According to Provincial Veterinary Officer Dr. Antonio Mutia, the workshop aims to develop a provincial avian influenza preparedness and response plan and to develop strategies/capabilities needed to prevent and control avian influenza and also to respond to a suspected avian flu outbreak. (PIA) [top]

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