Monday, August 25, 2008

August 24 Flu Update

Employing the oldest PR trick in the books, Indonesia is combining free food with bird flu education.

Some birds died in Hawaii, but apparently it was botulism.

Thailand is looking to expand its seasonal vaccine program, with benefits to its avian flu program.


At 6:24 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Judging from your Jarkarta Post article, it is not surprising that the Muslim activist group, Muhammadiyah (led by Dr. Din Syamsuddin), is taking the lead there in carrying the message of bird flu to the masses and mobilizing them. Other than a few token emergency government exercises like on the island of Bali, which were sanctioned and paid for by the WHO (with mostly western free money), I cannot recall any significant initiatives or efforts that the Indonesian government or health department has accomplished. Actual bird flu leadership is in the hands of the Imams and other clergy (Caliph’s), officials, and religious workers and volunteers.

The Muhammadiyah is actually the second largest Muslim organization (after Nahdatul Ulama, “NU”) in Indonesia and does in fact own and manage hundreds of medical clinics and hospitals, as well as several major universities. The reality there is that both Muhammadiyah and NU are extremely powerful conservative religious groups (kampungs) and possess more authority and influence over schools, hospitals, social, economic and health needs, than the central or provincial governments. Their goal is clearly to refine monotheism in Indonesia society. (The word “Ulama” itself means the scholar-preachers of Islam, who are trained in Qur’anic studies).

In these respects, Indonesian society is really a theocracy managed by the religious Imam’s, not their elected national leaders, and the closest government models to this arrangement reside in the Middle Eastern Arabic countries. Religious and government leaders are almost identical and form a strongly interlocked and virtually inseparable group. The real end result is a couple of bad situations: no rising middle economic class and no appreciation for capitalism as we know it in the west. Social, health, economic and infrastructure needs become the misplaced role of the religious leaders. The risk is that radical elements will prevail as the classic struggle between politics, religion and intolerance ensues, since there is no healthy separation of church and state.

When any particular single religion controls a government, anyone who does not agree with the tenets of the faith will have conflict not only within the religion, but also with the government that administers it. Intolerance and mistrust is why NAMRU-2 is unwelcome, why Madame Supari writes her inflammatory ridiculous books, and why western pharmaceutical companies are viewed with disdain. Conflict is unavoidable. The best bird flu transparency and pandemic preparedness we can hope for in Indonesia, is what we have now.

The late Ayatullah Khumayni of Iran continually complained that “Muslims have been robbed of their heritage through Western connivance”. If a pandemic originates in Indonesia’s midst, unfortunately this is exactly what they will believe: it is the fault of the demons in the West.


At 4:24 AM, Blogger Pauline said...

Many BIRD FLUcases of avian flu infection in humans have resulted from direct or close contact with infected poultry like domesticated chicken, ducks and so on


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