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Cablegate: Steps and Stumbles Forward in Bangladesh's Bird Flu

VZCZCXRO7471
RR RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #0976/01 1680508
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170508Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4322
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 9961
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9133
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1695
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 7966
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2549
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0791
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//ISA/NESA
RUEKDIA/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//J2/J5
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J2/J4/J5

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000976

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO AIAG/HOLLIS SUMMERS, AIAG/TONY NEWTON AND
AIAG/NICHOLAS STUDZINSKI
DELHI PLEASE PASS TO FAS/OLIVER FLAKE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU PREL PGOV BG
SUBJECT: STEPS AND STUMBLES FORWARD IN BANGLADESH'S BIRD FLU
RESPONSE

REF: (A) DHAKA 776, (B) DHAKA 743, (C) DHAKA 730, (d) DHAKA 626 AND

PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. In early June, Dinajpur became Bangladesh's
twelfth district to report H5 infection, but the first where local
officials initially identified the infection in local backyard birds
instead of in commercial poultry farms, showing that Bangladesh
continues to refine its Avian Influenza response. Other steps
forward by the GOB include negotiating a five-year, US$37 million
Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response Project with the World
Bank, and implementing a compensation plan for culled birds. These
steps include some stumbles, such as reports of improper veterinary
procedures and a lack of coordination with human health officials in
Dinajpur, and a lack of urgency on approving USAID and Centers for
Disease Control funds for outbreak response. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) THE OUTBREAK SITUATION. As of June 11, Dinajpur, in the
far northwest became the twelfth and most recent district in
Bangladesh to report an outbreak. (See map at
http://10.208.1.12/avian/maps/OutBrkMapJun11. pdf; post's Avian
Influenza webpage, http://10.208.1.12/dhkavianinfluenza.htm has
other relevant documents.) In contrast to other H5 detections, this
outbreak was first identified due to die offs in backyard, local
species poultry and not at commercial poultry farms. As a result,
local health, police, and Bangladesh Rifles border security forces
culled approximately 3,000 domestic chickens, pigeons, and ducks
which local folklore often considered as not vulnerable to H5N1.
Based on discussions with Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock
officials, veterinary officers in Dinajpur did not properly dispose
of the carcasses from the culling, indicating the need to continue
reinforcing training on basic procedures. Also, human health
officials were not coordinated with the veterinary officials,
demonstrating continued gaps in a complete surveillance effort and
problems with GOB interagency cooperation.

3. (SBU) THE WORLD BANK PROJECT. GOB and World Bank's
International Development Association (IDA) concluded negotiations
in early June for a five-year, two-part, US$37 million Avian
Influenza Preparedness and Response Project. The World Bank will
allocate US$16 million from existing human health programs in IDA
credits and pooled grant resources from participating donors to fund
the Avian Influenza Component of the Health, Nutrition and
Population Sector Program. The other, new part of the project is a
US$21 million program focusing on enhancing prevention and
preparedness capability, improving human pandemic and avian
influenza prevention and control planning, including strengthening
of disease surveillance, diagnostic capacity and laboratory
facilities. The US$21 million budget will be funded as follows:
US$16 million from IDA, US$3 million from the Avian Human Influenza
Trust Grant, and US$2 million from the GOB. In the GOB's recently
announced budget, several avian influenza related items have
appeared, including special projects in prevention and control
(US$2.7 million in FY08), poultry technology development and testing
(US$2.6 million in FY08), as well as measures continuing duty-free
access to equipment needed in the outbreak response.

4. (SBU) COMPENSATION. GOB has begun paying compensation to culled
farmers on a fixed schedule: taka 70 per layer chicken, taka 60 per
broiler, taka 15 per chick under three months, and taka 3 per egg.
NOTE: US$1 = Taka 70 END NOTE. At this time, funding for the
compensation is coming from the GOB treasury, despite both USAID
identified local currency and World Bank funds being specifically
earmarked as available for use in compensation plans. The GOB
compensation scheme also includes hatchery owners and other industry
actors committing to provide at no cost for one month to culled
farms: day old chicks, poultry feeds, and medicines. Industry
representatives worked as part of the GOB committee developing these
rates, but reports from media and USAID officers are that poultry
farmers out in the countryside are neither satisfied with the rates
set nor with the slow pace of distribution. (COMMENT: Seventy taka
per bird is close to market rate for a one kilogram bird, but not
for a larger three kilogram bird. Given the problems in assessing
culled stocks, a simplified compensation structure and tight
controls by the GOB on releasing compensation are understandable,
but appear to be hindering the compensation plan from becoming an
effective tool in encouraging rapid reporting to stop the spread of
the virus. END COMMENT.)

DHAKA 00000976 002 OF 002

5. (SBU) US AND MULTILATERAL DONOR EFFORTS. USAID continues to
press on completing the GOB's required bureaucratic processing on
the proposal to use local currency funds identified as being
available for Bird Flu response. GOB remains interested in using
the funds; internal obstacles are however only slowly being
overcome. In the same vein, the first tranche of US$375,000 from
the Centers for Disease Control's grant to increase laboratory
capacity and support human surveillance at the GOB's Institute for
Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research continues to wind its way
slowly through GOB channels.

BUTENIS

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