His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince; Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office has disclosed that a compensational package amounting to 15. 7 million dollars has been allocated to livestock farmers. His Royal Highness made the disclosure at the second meeting of the National Committee on Bird Flu Pandemic, Monday. The meeting began with doa selamat led by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Pehin Dato Seri Utama Dr. Ustaz Haji Awang Mohamad Zain.
Among the agenda in the meeting was discussion on the outcome of the first meeting of the committee, held on the 25th of November last year. His Royal Highness said the first meeting discussed at length preparations that need to be made, among them, the provision of vaccination to some 20 percent of the population, especially those in high risk. They include poultry farmers, farm workers, staff of the Agriculture Department and the Ministry of Health as well as of other agencies who are most exposed to poultry and birds. The stockpiling of the Avian Flu vaccination, Tamiflu, was also discussed, and for the vaccination to be given to all rakyat and people of Brunei Darussalam.
The first meeting also discussed when the Avian Flu crisis can be declared, in collaboration with WHO, because usually every case is reported directly to the organisation. His Royal Highness said the meeting also stressed on the need to raise public awareness extensively through education and the media about the bird flu and the influenza pandemic. His Royal Highness further said that in the religious aspect, it was agreed at the first meeting for special prayers to be held at mosques to seek protection and to prevent adverse happenings, and for Friday sermons to talk on the Bird Flu and the Influenza Pandemic. Other issues discussed included compensation to poultry farmers, bans on any public gathering and closures of schools, and if necessary, the closure of borders and other related matters.
At the second meeting Monday, the committee discussed the status of preparations by ministries towards preventing and controlling the Bird Flu from occurring in the country. It also discussed the Plan of Action on handling the influenza pandemic. The meeting also heard the latest development in the Human Avian Influenza. The Plan of Action among others covers measures in providing effective protection and treatment towards reducing risks among health workers. The Agriculture Department will continue to enhance measures to prevent and control the disease. Continued monitoring of the disease will also be maintained. To date, some 17 countries have been hit by the disease. Together, they have reported a total of nearly 3 thousand 800 cases.
Meanwhile, although Brunei Darussalam is free from the “Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza” or HPAI infection, its priority is focused on raising the state of readiness by putting in place detection and preventive measures to safeguard human as well as animal health. His Majesty’s government is taking measures to prevent the disease spreading into the country and has also drawn up a preparedness plan for any eventuality due to HPAI.
As such, a standard operating procedure on how to handle a real avian influenza outbreak was held at the Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Tutong recently. The hospital has been dedicated as the centre of quarantine and treatment of influenza patients. There are two isolation wards at the hospital, designed according to the international and World Health Organisation, WHO standard.
(10th Jan 2006)