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15.03.2006 General News

Regional taskforce on Avian Flu inaugurated


Sekondi, March 15, GNA - The public have been told that it is only the Director of Veterinary Service, who has the prerogative to announce the outbreak of Avian Influenza or the bird flu in any part of the country. People and particularly the media should therefore refrain from making any scary comments on the disease, since this may send wrong signals, especially to the international community.

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister made the remarks, when he inaugurated a ten-member Regional Taskforce on the bird flu at Sekondi on Tuesday.

Even though the disease had not been detected in any part of the country, some FM radio stations have started making sensational reports to compound the already precarious situation.

The Regional Minister appealed to the media to demonstrate their loyalty to the country, by giving enough airtime and space to educate the public about the bird flu and seek expert advice before making comments on the issue that had negatively affected the poultry industry. He enumerated some of the symptoms of the disease, mode of transmission, prevention of its spread and appealed to poultry farmers and the people in general not to hesitate to report suspected cases to the taskforce.

Mr Aidoo said the reported outbreak of the disease in neighbouring Burkina Faso was yet to be confirmed and advised the people to remain calm and be vigilant at the country' borders in order to check its spread into the country.

Mrs Linda Vanotoo, Deputy Director of Health Services announced that health workers in the region have been taken though series of educational programmes to update their knowledge on the disease and surveillance.

An isolated ward at the Effia-Nkwanta Hospital had also been reserved for those, who may have some kind of contact with diseased birds or should there be an outbreak of the disease.

A representative of the Ministry of Agriculture said workshops on the disease had been organised for farmers and workers of the Jomoro District Assembly to enable them to detect any outbreak of the disease early.

The District has a lot of water bodies and wetlands, where bird migrate.

Managers of wetlands and the Ankasa and Bia conservation areas are being encouraged to monitor migration of wild birds for early detection of the bird flu. Mr Yonkopa Arthur, Regional Co-ordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) said his outfit was reactivating its structures already on the ground to support the activities of the taskforce.

Membership of the regional taskforce on the Avian flu, whose chairman is yet to be appointed include representatives of the Ghana Health Service, Wildlife Division, Police Service, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, and National Commission on Civic Education. The rest are representatives of the Regional Coordinating Council, NADMO, Poultry Farmers Association, Information Services Department and the Media.