Beware: Indonesian Health Minister at the wheel

The Indonesian Health Minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, has figured out how to deal with her country's reputation as being the bird flu capital of the world. She isn't going to announce deaths from the disease as they happen:

A 15-year-old girl died of bird flu last month, becoming Indonesia's 109th victim, but the government decided to keep the news quiet. It is part of a new policy aimed at improving the image of the nation hardest hit by the disease. Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Thursday she will no longer announce deaths immediately after they are confirmed. But she promised to make the information available on a regular basis eventually, several cases at a time. "How does it help us to announce these deaths?" she said after confirming that the girl from southern Jakarta tested positive on May 13 and died one day later. "We want to focus now on positive steps and achievements made by the government in fighting bird flu." (AP)

WHO cannot keep an official tally of deaths until they are announced by a member nation, in this case Indonesia. So the numbers will always be suspect. I suppose one could argue that as long as public health officials outside Indonesia are current in what is happening there it's no problem. One could argue that if one were twenty years out of date, anyway. It's a credibility issue.

With today's channels of communication, some of them very noisy, the result is going to be lots of rumors about suspect cases of bird flu in Indonesia, with no way to disconfirm it and lots of well justified distrust of anything the Indonesian government says about it. And why would any tourist or business go to Indonesia now that they have admitted they wouldn't warn you if people were dying of bird flu? The Health Minister is a nutcase to begin with yet her colleagues in the Indonesian government are letting take the wheel of the bird flu bus.

Who is going to pay any attention to what the driver says over the loudspeaker system when the bus has already been driven into the ditch?

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Sounds like Brownie is doing one helluva job.

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 06 Jun 2008 #permalink

except that the bus isn't (probably) already in the ditch.
Just one more : "we don't know"

but hopefully they will announce quickly,
when the cases start to explode.
I remember, they said this earlier.

"Sounds like Brownie is doing one helluva job."

Hurricane, flooding, people trapped? I haven't hear anything about that. I'll get back to you on that. Next question.

Bird flu? ...

'If thine eyes offend thee pluck them out' Of course the modern version is denial.

It might be a useful service to travelers -- via travel blogs and sites like tripadvisor -- to post a short note about Indonesia's official announcement that they are no longer reporting human bird flu deaths in a timely manner. I would recommend using direct quotes from the Indonesian health minister, accompanied by a sentence about what the International Health Regulations require, plus a citation (link) to a media source of the information.

Rumors will indeed take on more significance in an environment of official cover-up.

The only thing unusual about Supari's announcement is its official nature! Usually coverups are more subtle.

By Path Forward (not verified) on 06 Jun 2008 #permalink

Hi Revere,

Polithukam, the commision fromed to evaluate Supari policies on Namru2 and on virus sharing is not over yet. The comin election in Indonesia has much to do in this.

Some Health Instances has the sequences and it has been agree that if any major changes in the sequences happened it will be swiftly forward to whom it concern.

Sadly I cannot give name, but you certainly corroborated ny statement with your contact Revere.

As for the number of deaths, we will have to live with Supari Policy.


It's apparently meant as a provocation to the rest of the world.
And Supari's reasoning like being unethical when Indonesia is to announce the identity of the victims is bullshit. That's not the matter in how frequently they are reporting bird flu cases to the media. Every educated medicus is routinely reporting about a patient by using initials and/or by omitting too idiosyncratic characteristics of the case.
The rationalizations Supari uses are farfetched and evidently produced to support her behaving like an unresponsible laywoman, offending the International Health Regulations and putting not only the health of the rest of the world, but also of 'her' own Indonesian people at risk.
We are insulted by her statements and her explanations when she plays this drama as if we are going to believe what she's telling the media.

So now we wont have any notification when BF strikes in Indon. You know, the worlds BF petting zoo. For Supari it will be just another respiratory disease. In otherwords, they hold the keys to the labs and wont let us work so to have BF you have to have a WHO lab verify it. So they might confirm it locally, but never internationally. Its going to be just another case of pneumonia as far as she is concerned.

On the other hand, up to the north sits a very Red Dragon that has several million ethnic Chinese in place and at work inside Indonesia. That Chinese Dragon has had ships moving around down there for about a year now.... all nuke tipped. They didnt appear until BF started clustering... Coincidence?

Indon is a large oil producer and not unlike the Japanese in the 1930's they have to be eyeing the possibilities of launching a invasion to "rescue" their nationals if BF is apparently breaking out. Presents some interesting connotations to the situation not to mention BF.

Its very apparent that Auntie Margaret has her hands full with Indonesia. The last great industry in the US is not going to be pushed around by a pissant country like Indon. But Supari has to go and I think this is the last straw. The outright theft of 20% of all of the money that was sent in there for BF, the corruption on what wasnt stolen and the pressure from all of the countries in the region has be felt right now. Everyone complains about Bush and Cheney...If they are doing something then they are rank amateurs compared to Indonesia.

But we have a serious problem here. The UN Charter is specific in this matter and any country could declare war on them with proper notification to the Security Council for impingement on their national interests. Unchecked BF expansion could be a tenet of this. I am amazed that its gone this far without some sort of warning. Supari is either stupid, insane or looking for a payday of some kind and she is playing with fire now and she could pay for it with her life and that of many others. Including mine.

Whatever sympathy Indon had in the region or in the world is gone. Cant support that kind of position. Three days ago she accused Baxter of reneging on a deal to make vaccines. Baxter came back and said that there was nothing in writing yet on that.

If the PM is smart then he will remove her. If BF breaks out and she is in charge, they are both dead pure and simple as the mob will take them apart like a two dollar watch. For my way of thinking, its time to stop the aid to them entirely and see how long their positions last. Extortion is a good tool in the world. Its our money, lets improve the value of it by not shipping a billion to that place a year?

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 06 Jun 2008 #permalink

Randy: My analogy of politics and church separation principle applies to politics and economy principle. (As you know that they are not one without the other, just the separation)

Based on business assessment among China, Vietnam and Indonesia in terms of sustainability for next 30 years, I have betted Indonesia number one, the other two come next. I have physically stayed in two except Vietnam. My reasons are not too complicated; Communism is a black hole and there is no solution, moreover only Vietnam and China had direct military conflicts with the United States. These are my reasoning; please tell me if I have been wrong.

I am interested in developing food supply centers in Asia on green basis; therefore, I have facilitated the syndication and prospective board members top priority from Revere's value and philosophy. Would you possibly alter your route and put Indonesia in top list? I can communicate with you by emails about this. Sorry for a bit side tract from this thread for personal, but open disclosure enough.

Paiwan-I am a supply person by nature here in the US. I am an IC-800 NGO and this level has tremendous horsepower if and when a disaster strikes and we are activated. Indonesia is a ticking and very large time bomb and when it goes off, BF might be the least of our worries. It is also an OPEC state and it will be leaving the organization soon because of the mismanagement of not only their health system, but of their oil production as well.

I dont support any country that suppresses its people where they have no redress through their system via the courts or their legislatures. The PM is defacto dictator for all intents and purposes and if the Brownie reference is descriptive then Supari is Governor Blanco. The water is running in and she is still assessing.........

I have absolutely no problem with assisting you on your project but there will have to be some parameters established. Indonesia is a house of cards and the removal of state subsidies on fuel will very likely bring this government down.I ascribe to Revere's philosophy in many matters. How we get there is the rub that he and I have sometimes.

Lets just say that I am glad he is here to balance off the ultra-rightists out there. They certainly dont listen to me.

You can email me at

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 07 Jun 2008 #permalink

I completely agree with her. For 5 years, we have been getting this real time information, and I use the world loosely, panicking the people into hysteria, triggering billions to be spent on Rumsfelds Tamiflu, an untold number of giga-bytes spewing forth from bloggers and commenters slowing down Al Gores invention, wear and tear on keyboards costing millions of dollars in excess purchases of computers, billions of man hours wasted that could have been spent surfing porn or conspiracies, travel plans changed for fear of getting caught up in a pandemic, etc.

Enough with the BF terrorists, put them on the same boat as the GWOT neocons, the Carbon Trading Global Warming Terror Bunnies and the Peak Oil Bubble Making Future Trading Pranksters, and sink them all together. Begone.

When a pandemic strikes and hospitals are filling up, wherever that might be, from whatever disease it might be, then spill the beans, quickly, and close airports if you must. But in the mean time, release the data monthly or quarterly, once the results are in and if the numbers are few, and let the WHO scientists do what they do and analyze it between vacations. Reading that there is an isolated suspected case or two ASAP from a country that has a history of it, really does nothing for anyone. And if it bothers you, just don't fly to Indonesia.

Anyways, the neo-malthusians among us who believe we are overpopulating the planet, consuming the last drops of oil and giving Mother Earth a fever, might be cooking up a new virus for us in the lab, seeing as how H5N1 was a dud.