The beach in Indonesia may look nice, but don’t let that distract you:
There is an English word for deliberately neglecting to tell people something they have asked you about. It’s called lying. On that basis, the Indonesian government, primarily in the person of their Minister of Health, Siti Fadillah Supari, are liars. They have publicly declared their intention to lie by announcing they will no longer notify the world promptly about new human cases of bird flu. The acknowledged motive is to improve the reputation of Indonesia in the eyes of the world. Currently the country is the world’s hotspot for human bird flu. Whether they announce new cases or not, it will continue to be the world’s hot spot for bird flu. And frankly, anyone who doesn’t absolutely have to travel there would be crazy to do so. I know there are some beautiful vacation spots in Indonesia, but there are beautiful vacation spots in lots of places. Why go somewhere where the government has announced its willingness to cover up a deadly danger that could take your life? As for investing there? Sure. If you want to lose everything when rumors sweep the world that bird flu is running amok there and no credible source is available to refute the stories. Because the Indonesian government is most definitely not a credible source.
Whether the Indonesians will carry through with their threat to batch announcements at 6 month intervals is unclear. They have just announced two deaths, one after an interval of two weeks, one at least a month old. How many more were there? WHO suspects at least one other not yet admitted by the Indonesian authorities, but WHO is putting an optimistic face on the announcement of the latest deaths:
The latest infections are the first since Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari declared two weeks ago that Jakarta had changed its policy on reporting human cases and would only announce the death toll every six months.
The WHO, a United Nations agency, has been seeking clarification on her remarks amid concerns that that the decision could lead to delays in containing outbreaks.
International health regulations (IHR) require the WHO’s 193 member states to report human cases of bird flu within 24 hours.
‘The minister has told WHO they will not continue to share publicly whenever there is a new case but they will inform the WHO in conformity with IHR,’ said Mr David Heymann, WHO assistant director-general for health security and environment.
‘We anticipate that promise will be honoured,’ he said. (Reuters)
Yeah, right. Meanwhile Reuters reports an Indonesian flu expert has said many bird flu cases there are misdiagnosed as dengue, typhoid or bacterial pneumonia and their treatment delayed. This is not surprising, since the innate immune response to these diseases is similar to flu. But one wonders how much misdiagnosis is being encouraged by government policy. It’s a lot easier to classify a flu death as dengue than just cover up the death altogether. The flu will get lost in the noise, since there is a lot of dengue around.
Government lying isn’t unusual. The US government does it all the time. As a result much of the world doesn’t believe a thing the government says. I also don’t believe a thing the Indonesian government says. Next they’ll be telling us they don’t torture people.