Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Bird flu centre in Indonesia threatened with closure


Indonesia has ordered a US military research unit in Jakarta to close by the end of the month, a move that would greatly weaken efforts to control avian flu outbreaks across the country, reports an article published in Nature this week (8 December).

The research unit, set up in 1970 under a bilateral agreement between the two countries, has been working with the Indonesian authorities to improve the monitoring and diagnosis of avian flu cases.

The centre's original agreement with Indonesia expired in January 2000, but the authorities have ignored its continued operation until now.

On 23 November, the Indonesian Health Ministry posted a memo addressed to all health agencies and hospitals, stating that the centre's activities must end by 31 December 2005.

Scientists working at the centre suspect that internal government politics in Indonesia are responsible for the closure.

They point out they were promised US$10 million in extra funding by the US health secretary in mid-October and that only a week before the memo appeared, one of the Indonesian president's chief advisers had privately assured them the centre would be allowed to continue operating.

Indonesia reported its first human case of avian flu in July, and accounts for the world's largest share of recent cases of human avian flu.

Link to full article in Nature

Reference: Nature 438, 719 (2005)

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.