WITH the avian flu outbreak in Pampanga, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan urged a concerted effort from all concerned government departments and agencies to address the emergency at all fronts and protect the vulnerable sectors against the impact of the virus.
He also called on President Rodrigo Duterte to gather all agencies and come up with a comprehensive plan of action to put in place necessary measures in dealing with the avian flu.
"Of utmost importance is to control the spread of the virus and to prevent it from taking people’s lives and more livelihood," he said.
Pangilian said that the Department of Agriculture (DA), together with the Department of Health, should conduct a massive information campaign such as community assemblies to educate the public about the virus, its dangers, and on ways of avoiding it. What is the H5 avian flu strain? How is it different from the much-dreaded A(H1N1) bird flu that spread elsewhere around the world in 2009?
He proposed an information drive that includes the protocols to be followed to prevent the further spread of the virus.
"Since the virus is known to infect humans as well, people, especially those who handle fowls, should know how to protect themselves," he said.
He also asked the DA to ensure that only uncontaminated meat is available to the consuming public at standard prices.
With the DA’s announcement of culling hundreds of thousands of fowls, Pangilinan urged the Department of Trade and Industry to watch out for profiteers who might take advantage of the situation and increase the prices of raw and processed chicken meat on the market.
"As it is, there is only one affected area and there are many other sources of chicken meat in the country," Pangilinan said, adding: "We laud the commitment of the national government to compensate poultry farmers for every culled bird. But more than this, we push for greater government support for the micro and small businesses and the industry in general through funding and other assistance as they battle the virus and recover from their losses."
Experts have repeatedly warned that the avian flu pandemic is inevitable, even as the timing is unpredictable.
"We must act as one to ensure that we are spared from its devastating consequences."