official of the Tanzanian ministry of health says the country will remain
vigilant in the fight against avian influenza, especially because it lies on a
migratory bird route.
Dr. Mohamed Ali Mohamed is
an epidemiologist at Tanzania’s ministry of health in Dar es Salaam. He told
VOA English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that Tanzania and other countries
in the region are at risk for avian flu because they lie on a route taken by
migratory birds from Europe and Asia every year.
He said the government is
careful about importing poultry products from other countries, but the risk
cannot be eliminated.
“But we are prepared in case
of any (avian flu) threat or outbreak. We work as a team with other ministries
in this effort to combat the avian flu threat,” he said.
Dr. Mohamed noted that
Tanzania is trying hard to sensitize the people about this threat. “We have an
avian flu awareness plan. We work with other agencies like the United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In fact, UNICEF is the lead agency in this
(awareness) campaign. We even have conducted local traditional plays in
different regions of the country to make sure people understand the risk of
He is not concerned that
local poultry farmers might not report avian flu cases for fear of losing their
birds. “In our response plans we are discussing compensation plans to poultry
farmers in case of an outbreak. This will encourage people to report any cases
(of avian flu).”
Dr. Mohamed said the
government is now in the process of asking for help from different
organizations to create the fund. “ We have got some assistance from the AU
(African Union) Avian Influenza Preparedness Fund. He mentioned the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the World Health
organization (WHO) as the other organizations that have promised help in case
of an outbreak.
He said Tanzania was the first east African
country to receive training in the detection and prevention of avian influenza.
“We have the personnel, protective gear and WHO has promised drugs.”