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More Aust. help to fight Avian Influenza Indonesia

Further Australian Support to Combat Avian Influenza in Indonesia

I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government will purchase an additional 40,000 courses of the anti-viral medication Tamiflu to combat the recent outbreak of Avian Influenza in Indonesia.

This funding will help Indonesia develop a stockpile of Tamiflu which will be used to treat suspected victims and people who have been in immediate close contact with them, and hospital workers in 44 identified Avian Influenza national referral hospitals.

The Australian Government is committed to taking a strong leadership role in combating Avian Influenza in the Asia Pacific and this assistance demonstrates our intention to work closely with regional partners as they implement their plans to treat victims and prevent spread of the disease. As well as $133 million allocated for prevention and preparedness in Australia, we have committed over $18 million since 2003 to tackle Avian Influenza and SARS in our region.

Australian Department of Health officials have recently been in Indonesia for discussions with senior Indonesian officials and the World Health Organisation (WHO) country office.

This latest funding of Tamiflu supplies will bring the total Australian contribution to recent WHO requests for Indonesia to $1.25 million. It follows Australia's initial funding for 10,000 emergency courses of the drug. This first emergency consignment of Tamiflu has been sourced and ordered by the WHO and is currently on its way to Jakarta, due to arrive this week.

As with the initial support, this funding will be provided to the WHO which will again source and distribute the Tamiflu to identified, targeted sites to maximise containment of any potential outbreak and minimise the risk of an outbreak spreading.

In addition to providing this immediate assistance for Indonesia, we are taking a wider view and working vigorously to encourage the broader international community to engage seriously on this issue. In particular, we want to ensure that effectively addressing Avian Influenza in the Asia Pacific region is a strong focus of the forthcoming APEC meeting in South Korea.

The Australian Government has now pledged a total of $5.55 million in assistance to Indonesia to help combat Avian Influenza.

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