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Cablegate: Vietnam: Avian Influenza Weekly Report for December

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 003190

SIPDIS

USAID/RDM-A/BANGKOK PRIORITY

STATE FOR G; CA/OCS/ACS/EAP; EAP/EX; EAP/BCLTV; EAP/EP; INR;
OES/STC (PBATES); OES/IHA (DSINGER AND NCOMELLA)
BANGKOK FOR RMO, CDC, USAID/RDM/A (MFRIEDMAN AND JMACARTHUR)
USDA FOR FAS/PASS TO APHIS
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR OSD/ISA/AP (LSTERN)
USAID FOR ANE AND GH (DCARROLL, SCLEMENTS AND PCHAPLIN)
STATE PASS USTR (ELENA BRYAN)
STATE ALSO PASS HHS/OGHA (EELVANDER)
ROME FOR FAO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMED AMGT CASC EAGR PINR SOCI PGOV TBIO VM AFLU
SUBJECT: VIETNAM: AVIAN INFLUENZA WEEKLY REPORT FOR DECEMBER
1, 2005

REF: A) Hanoi 3124

1. (U) Summary. There have been no new human Avian
Influenza (AI) deaths in Vietnam since October 29. The
World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed Vietnam's 66th
human AI case on November 25 after a 15-year old boy
contracted H5N1. During an informal donors' meeting chaired
by the World Bank and WHO on November 30, the Ministry of
Health (MOH) outlined their Action Plan to Control Avian
Influenza (AI) Pandemic in Humans and requested USD 147
million to fund public health-related equipment, drugs,
surveillance and training needs in 2006. The Government of
Vietnam (GVN) conducted a mock AI preparedness drill in
Hanoi on November 27 and launched a new AI website for the
public on November 30. Poultry products are no longer
available in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. End Summary.

QUICK AI SNAPSHOT
-----------------

2. (U) As of November 29, 2005:

Since 2003 Since January 2005

Human AI Deaths in Vietnam 42 22
Human AI Cases in Vietnam 93 66

3. (U) Thus far, AI in poultry has affected 199 communes and
wards of 72 districts in 17 provinces and cities. According
to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
Veterinary Department, Vietnam has vaccinated 164 million
poultry, including 108 million chickens and 56 million
ducks.

VIETNAM'S 66TH AI CASE CONFIRMED
---------------------------------------

4. (U) The WHO confirmed on November 25 that a 15-year-old
boy from Haiphong Province had H5N1 AI (reftel) but
survived. The boy was hospitalized on November 16, but was
later discharged. According to recent press reports, a
three year-old boy from the Mekong Delta province of Tien
Giang is suspected to have AI, but this has not been
confirmed. Officially, according to the WHO, Vietnam has
reported 66 human AI cases since January 2005, resulting in
22 deaths.

AI ON THE WEB
-------------

5. (U) The GVN inaugurated an AI Internet website on
November 30 to inform the general public about AI. The
website has useful AI-related information, but is written in
Vietnamese. The website is www.cumgiacam.gov.vn.

INTERNATIONAL COORDINATION IN VIETNAM
-------------------------------------

6. (SBU) On November 30, the World Bank and WHO convened an
informal donor coordination meeting to facilitate closer
integration of ongoing and future donor activities with the
Ministry of Health (MOH) and discuss specific public-
health/AI-related needs for 2006. The meeting was held as a
prelude to a formal World Bank/WHO/GVN donors' meeting to be
held December 13. Representatives from the World Bank, WHO,
Australia, Canada, European Union, Germany, the Netherlands,
Switzerland, the United States and United Kingdom were
present.

7. (SBU) World Bank Country Director Klaus Rohland and WHO
Country Representative Hans Troedsson stressed that the
international community should not duplicate AI
interventions in Vietnam and must also work together to
ensure there are no gaps. Rohland stressed that this
particular call for donor support focuses on enabling MOH to
build capacity for AI as well as other infectious diseases
at central, provincial and community levels and that "soft"
AI-related needs, such as equipment maintenance, training
and software should not be overlooked by donors. Troedsson
highlighted two key areas for immediate donor support:
surveillance ("if we don't see it, we won't catch it") and
information/education, which has been largely neglected as
Vietnam enters the high-risk flu season.

8. (SBU) During the meeting, MOH Department of Planning and
Finance Vice Director N.H. Long gave a detailed presentation
about MOH's Action Plan to Control AI Pandemic in Humans and
asked for USD 147 million for AI-related equipment, drugs,
surveillance and training needs in 2006. Specifically, Long
said the MOH needs to focus more support toward prevention,
treatment and essential services.

8. (U) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will be providing
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with a USD 30 million grant to
contain AI and other diseases. ADB will provide the funds
to help the affected countries develop their surveillance
and response systems and the grant will be administered
within the framework of the ADB-backed Greater Mekong
Subregion economic cooperation program.

USAID AI BEHAVIOR CHANGE PROJECT
--------------------------------

9. (U) In response to a request from the Ministry of
Information and Culture, AED/Ogilvy Public Relations (OPR)
will be providing assistance for the training of the media
in reporting on AI under the AI Behavior Change
Communication Project. Three one-day workshops will be held
in Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, each with around 200
participants. The tentative dates for the workshop are
December 9, 12 and 15. The team is discussing with the
Public Affairs Section (PAS) the possibility of providing a
specialist to conduct the media skills training. The
presentation topics may include: responsible and factual
reporting, empowering your audience to protect against AI
and integrating behavior change messages into your stories.
OPR will manage the organization of the event and will
arrange for some of the presenters and facilitators.

POULTRY RELATED ISSUES
----------------------

10. (U) According to November 30 press reports, MARD is
considering culling the country's entire poultry stock of
220 million fowls to combat AI. The idea is facing strong
objections from poultry producers after millions of dollars
have already been spent on the poultry vaccination program.
In the meantime, the poultry vaccination program continues
in Vietnam and the Chinese government recently provided USD
174,000 to help Chinese businesses ship poultry vaccines
from China to Ho Chi Minh City.

11. (U) The Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City has also
followed up on news reports that the Department of Animal
Health is poisoning pigeons and other wild birds in that
city. Animal health officials reported they were conducting
experiments to see if it was feasible to poison the city's
pigeons without harming other animals and humans; however,
no program has been implemented to date. According to
Reuters, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization said
that the wild birds around Ho Chi Minh City were "highly
unlikely" to carry the H5N1 virus.

12. (U) To help farmers with their poultry losses, the
Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development will
reduce its monthly loan interest rates from 1.5 percent to
0.15 percent to poultry farmers. According to press
reports, the Ministry of Finance and MARD have also asked
banks to extend the repayment deadline by one year for
farmers affected by AI.

GVN PRACTICES FOR AN AI OUTBREAK
--------------------------------

13. (U) The GVN held its first AI outbreak drill in Hanoi on
November 27. The drill involved approximately 1,000 health
workers and civilians who responded to a simulated AI
outbreak in Hanoi's Long Bien District. A battalion of
health, civilian and military workers converged upon the
neighborhood where thirty individuals simulated having
contracted AI. According to news reports, police sealed off
roads, transferred patients to a neighborhood hospital and
health workers wearing protective clothing sprayed
disinfectant around the surrounding neighborhood. This was
the GVN's second AI exercise using "live" victims in
response to the continued concern of an AI pandemic in
country; an earlier exercise was conducted in HCMC.
According to reports, Minister of Health Tran Thi Trung
Chien was present during the drill.

BYE-BYE CHICKEN FEATHER DUSTERS!
--------------------------------

14. (U) With poultry not available in Hanoi's markets and
restaurants, local suppliers and consumers are having to
find alternatives to chicken and eggs. In fact, the use of
frog legs is now often seen as a substitute for chicken.
The real test, however, will come during Vietnamese New Year
or "Tet" in late January 2006 when demand for poultry
reaches an annual peak. Chicken is a traditional dish often
served by most Vietnamese families during Tet and an
informal survey of local embassy staff has revealed that
pork or seafood will be a likely replacement, albeit with
mild protests.

15. (U) Interestingly, chicken feather dusters are also
becoming a rarity in Hanoi because the number of vendors
selling them is on the decline since the GVN has banned
their production. Prices have actually tumbled, not
increased, due to low consumer demand and the fear that the
feathers may contain H5N1.

MARINE

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