Task force steps up bird flu prevention in Region 8
Tacloban City (September 11) -- The Avian Influenza Task Force in Eastern Visayas is putting in place additional measures to keep the Philippines bird flu free, especially because the season for the arrival of migratory birds in to the country usually starts in the month of September until the month of April.
Among these measures include the setting up of special task forces like the Bantay Ibon Brigade at the barangay level to keep a closer watch at the identified migratory sites in the Region, Department of Agriculture Executive Director Leo Caneda, chairman of the Avian Influenza Task Force in Eastern Visayas, informed.
Although this is a continuing activity, there is a need to intensify it as a pre-emptive and proactive measure.
Another measure is the setting up of emergency response plans at the municipal levels to deal with the possible AI outbreak, and the conduct of "real time simulation exercises" to test the measures already put in place under the Avian Influenza Protection Program.
As part of the stepped up measures, the Avian Influenza Task Force in the Region has also lined up activities such as AI preparedness and Response Communication Plan for information officers, avian influenza radio plugs and media guestings.
Another measure is the setting up expanded preparedness and response plans at the provincial, municipal and city levels, which would involve creating local task forces, conducting a checklist of AI preparedness measures, drawing up emergency response plans and encouraging local government units to pass ordinances to help address possible outbreaks of the bird flu.
In fact, the Task Force is set to meet with the Northern Samar Provincial Task Force on September 14 and it is set to conduct AI Protection Program Orientation for all the cities and several target municipalities in the Region.
Although the wetlands in Region 8 are not included in the list of 20 critical areas, under the Bantay Wetlands approach, tight watch is being conducted in the migratory sites in the Region to include the Ormoc Bay wetland, Tres Marias Wetlands in Palompon, Leyte, Leyte wetland, Lake Bito in MacArthur, Leyte; St. Bernard Mangrove Resource in Southern Leyte; Maqueda Bay wetland and Basey Wetland in Samar Province; Lake Lagbangan in San Antonio, Rosario wetland and Catubig paddies in Northern Samar; and Guiuan wetland in Eastern Samar.
Under the Seaport and exotic approach, the seaports in Allen and Liloan towns are monitored by the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Committee Unit to prevent the entry of exotic birds from banned origin.
Currently under surveillance in the Philippines are 20 critical areas like Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte; Aparri, Cagayan; Magat Dam in Isabela; Candaba Swamp in Pampanga; Naujan Lake in Mindoro; Bulan and Matnog in Sorsogon; Quezon; Palawan; Olango Island in Cebu; Roxas and Capiz in Panay Island; Himamaylan in Negros Occidental; Surigao del Norte; Surigao del Sur; Lake Mainit in Agusan del Norte; Agusan del Sur; Ligwasan Marsh in Kabacan, Cotabato; General Santos City; Zamboanga del Norte; Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga City. (PIA 8) [top]