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PPE shortage undermines Indonesias bird flu responsePosted on 30/06/2006

Indonesia's poor response to a cluster of bird flu fatalities would have accelerated rather than slowed the worldwide transmission of the disease had it been a pandemic strain of H5N1, according to health experts.

Over the past six weeks there have been seven deaths from one family from bird flu, with health experts blaming a catalogue of errors in the health system.

A chronic shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) may have resulted in the father of the family being infected while caring for his ten-year-old son in hospital as he was not given any PPE.

Once infected the father was free to check out of hospital and visited a number of relatives while not wearing PPE.

Fortunately the particular strain of bird flu involved in this case was not a pandemic strain of H5N1, but nonetheless highlighted severe limitations in Indonesia's ability to combat bird flu.

Indeed, Dr Muhammad Nur Rasyid Lubis, who is in charge of the avian flu unit at Adam Malik Hospital, said that a shortage of PPE meant that doctors and nurses rarely received any, which would have a devastating effect on health care should they become sick themselves.

To address concerns the Indonesian government has requested $900 million dollars to buy PPE and a number of other anti-bird flu measures.

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