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Indonesia Stops Announcing Human Bird Flu Deaths on Case-by-Case Basis


Indonesia's health minister says the country has changed its policy on reporting bird flu cases and will not immediately announce human deaths from the virus.

Siti Fadilah Supari announced Thursday that Indonesia will instead report deaths every few months, probably several cases at a time. She suggested it is not helpful to announce individual deaths as they happen.

The World Health Organization has confirmed at least 108 people have died from bird flu in Indonesia. Worldwide, 241 people have died from the disease.

Indonesia's health minister has been a controversial figure in the country's battle with bird flu.

She stopped freely sharing samples of the bird flu virus with international health researchers last year, and announced Indonesia would only share samples with parties who agree not to use them for profit.

Supari changed Indonesia's policy after expressing concern that private companies could use the data to make vaccines that would be too expensive for developing nations, like Indonesia.

World Health Organization officials say that while contributing samples is voluntary, studying strains from different countries helps scientists track the evolution of the virus.

Scientists want to make a vaccine for the virus because they fear it could change into a form easily passed among humans, creating a global pandemic.

Most human cases result from contact with sick or dead birds.

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