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PIA Press Release

Bird flu: A children’s concern

Davao City (17 April) -- Bird Flu is a children’s concern, which has prompted the United Nations Children’s Fund to join the information drive to keep the Philippines free from the pandemic and save the Filipino children.

Nilo Yacat, an information officer from UNICEF Philippines in a seminar workshop with Philippine Information Agency (PIA) information officers, bared the extent of harm that the Avian Influenza (AI) had done to children population.

He said one-half of the reported cases and one-third of the reported deaths worldwide due to AI, were children.

As of April 11, 2007 reports of the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that human cases of AI, particularly the H5N1 virus, reached a total of 291 while 172 were recorded deaths.

Dr. Rose Antegro of the Bureau of Animal Industry in a presentation showed 57 countries had been affected by AI. Among them were China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Pakistan, South Africa, North Korea, Japan, Russia,Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Romania, Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Citing goals of the government to keep the country stay free from the virus, Yacat said UNICEF is extending its expertise of educating not only the children but the Filipino people to deal with such health menace “that is not yet here.”

“It’s difficult but it can be done. Accurate information is our first line of defense,” he told PIA information officers whom he called on to take on a significant role in the advocacy campaign against bird flu.

Yacat revealed that UNICEF’s advocacy campaign in the Philippines regarding AI is backed by a grant from the People and the Government of Japan in support to Emergency Risk Communication for Avian Influenza aimed at “harnessing extensive on-the-ground networks to deliver critical life-saving messages.”

With the communication fund, it is expected that by the end of 2007, families in high risk communities (hot spots) & high-risk groups are ready to adopt preventive practices; media reports on avian influenza have increased; and an emergency communication plan is adopted, Yacat said.

A presentation of BAI said that AI is an infectious disease in ducks and other birds caused by different sub-types of Influenza A virus (H5N1) whose infection ranges from mild to acute.

A fatal disease, AI comes in two types depending on the severity of illness, namely, high pathogenic AI (HPAI) and low pathogenic AI (LPAI).

Possible AI presence in a poultry is manifested by unexplained high mortality over three consecutive days, loss of appetite of poultry animals, drastic drop in egg production, ruffled feathers, facial swelling and bluish-violet colored combs and wattles, presence of severe respiratory signs including sneezing, cough and nasal discharge; diarrhea, hemorrhages in internal organs and swollen legs.

Because of the possibility that AI in poultry animals infects human, UNICEF places its interest in telling the people especially the “children not to play with ducks and any.”

Meanwhile, through the AI Prevention Program (AIPP), the government has placed 20 sites as monitoring priority areas where these are known swamps and wetland areas and where migratory birds are usually found.

These sites are found in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur,Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay; Palawan near Quezon, and,Narra Towns;,Pampanga – Candaba Swamp; Ilocos Norte – Pagudpud; Cagayan – Aparri; Cebu – Olanggo Island; Negros Occidental – Himamaylan; Isabela – Magat Dam; Ramon– Agusan del Norte; Agusan del Sur; Surigao del Norte, Lake Mainit; Surigao del Sur; Panay Island – Roxas, Capiz; Sorsogon – Bulan and Matnog; General Santos City; Mindoro Oriental – Naujan; Cotabato – Liguasan Marsh. (PIA XI/JMDA) [top]

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