Dec 13, 2011

Indonesia - Indonesia opens first WHO airborne infection isolation rooms

Indonesia will likely be able to contain avian influenza outbreaks in the future as the Health Ministry opened on Monday its first ever isolation rooms with negative pressure, crucial in managing infectious diseases, including avian influenza, and preventing their transmission.

Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said that the newly developed airborne infection isolation facilities in Tangerang Regional Hospital in Tangerang, Banten, and in Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta, were specifically designed to help contain avian influenza outbreaks in the country.

Human fatalities from H5N1 or “bird flu” virus were mostly caused by delayed diagnosis and improper treatment, she said.

“By developing such airborne infection isolation rooms, we hope that hospitals can offer better treatment for patients infected by the virus so that we can reduce bird flu-related deaths,” she said on the sidelines of a ceremony to hand over the two isolation rooms from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the Health Ministry in Tangerang.

Despite ongoing efforts to control the disease, avian influenza (H5N1) remains a serious public health threat both globally and in Indonesia. Since the first human case emerged in 2003, there have been 571 cases with 335 fatalities globally, WHO data shows.

Citing data from the Directorate General of Disease Control and Environmental Health (P2PL) at the Health Ministry, Endang said that, as of November, the avian influenza (H5N1) virus had spread to 32 provinces, contaminating poultry farms located in close proximity to human settlements. Meanwhile, human infections have reached 182 cases with 150 deaths, making Indonesia the country with the highest number of H5N1 cases.

Most of the bird flu infections in Indonesia occurred when the virus spread from an animal to a human. “Since 2005, bird flu has become an emerging disease which spreads to humans from animals, causing high fatalities among humans,” Endang said.

Studies show that influenza A subtype H5 and H7 viruses have not only entered a new adjustment phase but they even can mutate into a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) which causes not only a vicious systemic disease but also death.

While praising some significant achievements being made by Indonesia in H5N1 control activities, Khanchit Limpakarnjanarat, the WHO Representative to Indonesia, said a fatality rate of above 80 percent still exists.

“This shows that the threat is still there,” he said.

As the European Union (EU), through the WHO, has channeled funds for “Implementing the National Strategic Plan for Avian Influenza (INSPAI) project” in 2007, the Health Ministry proposed in 2008 the development of airborne infection isolation rooms in several hospitals aimed at improving bird flu management control.

Throughout the duration of the project from December 2007 and December 2012, the Health Ministry expects to create 10 isolation rooms with negative pressure.

Apart from the initial two hospitals, the WHO is currently supporting the completion of similar facilities funded by the EU and implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in eight other hospitals in Indonesia, which is worth US$13.5 million. These hospitals are Gatot Subroto Hospital and Sulianti Saroso Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Hospital in Jakarta; Gunung Jati Hospital in Cirebon, West Java; Dr. Kandouw Hospital in Manado, North Sulawesi; Dr. Muwardi Hospital in Surakarta, Central Java; Ulin Hospital in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan; Abdul Muluk Hospital in Bandar Lampung; and Dr. Soetomo Hospital in Surabaya, East Java.

Elly Burhaini Faizal
The Jakarta Post

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