Jun 19, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that Indonesia has officially notified it of two recent fatal human cases of H5N1 avian influenza that were reported previously by the news media.The reporting to the WHO of the cases in a 16-year-girl and a 34-year-old woman comes 2 weeks after Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Indonesia would stop announcing cases as they occur and instead list them only at longer intervals, perhaps as long as 6 months. The comments raised questions about the government’s compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR), which call for countries to promptly report human cases of avian flu and certain other diseases to the WHO.David Heymann of the WHO drew a distinction between Indonesia’s public announcements of H5N1 cases and its reports to the WHO, according to a Reuters report published today.”The minister [Supari] 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 Heymann, who is the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment.Heymann told Reuters the WHO encourages all governments to provide information freely to their populations, but it is their decision.Today’s WHO statement, citing information from the Indonesian health ministry, said the 16-year-old girl was from South Jakarta and fell ill on May 7; she was hospitalized May 12 and died 2 days later. There was evidence that she had been exposed to sick and dead poultry, the agency said.Supari had reported the girl’s case to the Associated Press (AP) 2 weeks ago but had described her as a 15-year-old.The WHO said the 34-year-old woman was from Tangerang district, west of Jakarta. She became ill May 26 and died Jun 3 after a day in a hospital. An investigation into the source of her exposure was continuing.The AP on Jun 13 had reported that a 34-year-old woman named Susi Lisnawati had died of avian flu on Jun 3. Several government officials who requested anonymity had confirmed the case, but the government had not informed the woman’s husband that she had the virus, according to the story.The two latest cases raise the WHO’s H5N1 count for Indonesia, the hardest-hit country, to 135 cases with 110 deaths. The global count has reached 385 cases, including 243 deaths.Heymann told Reuters that Indonesian authorities were trying to confirm another suspected H5N1 case that was fatal.According to Reuters, another WHO official said the agency has a good relationship with Indonesia, despite the country’s reluctance to share H5N1 virus isolates. Indonesia is seeking guarantees that it will receive a supply of any vaccines developed from the isolates it provides.”There is a strong working relationship between the WHO country office and the government,” John Rainford, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, told Reuters. “Even if there is a conflict on issues like virus-sharing, it hasn’t eroded the ability to carry out joint investigations.”A WHO official who requested anonymity told CIDRAP News this week that the agency had been aware of recent H5N1 cases in Indonesia despite the delay in receiving official notification.Speaking before the latest case confirmations, the official said, “The fact that you don’t yet have official notification of any cases doesn’t mean there isn’t unofficial awareness.” He said the two recent cases didn’t change WHO experts’ assessment of the risk posed by the virus.If the cases had signaled more of a threat, the information would have been handled differently, he suggested. “If we were dealing with something much more serious, I think there would be a very, very different approach by all involved in getting the information. If you had a cluster of something behaving in an unusual fashion, the pressure to share it would be very high.”See also: Jun 13 CIDRAP News story “Indonesian government mum as AP reports H5N1 case”Jun 5 CIDRAP News story “Indonesia quits offering prompt notice of H5N1 cases”
When the history of President Goodluck Jonathan is written, a lot of chapters will be dedicated to his numerous achievements in sports. It was during his regime that Nigeria won her first Africa Cup of Nations in 19 years, remarkably, outside the shores of the country. Before then, Nigeria won the trophy in 1980 and the last triumph in Tunisia ‘ 94 among others.Definitely, General Mohammadu Buhari has a tall order ahead of him if his predecessor’s track record is anything to go by. Luckily, the President-elect is not a fresher when it comes to governance. As a former Head of State(under the military), Buhari welcomed the 1985 all-conquering Golden Eaglets from China with the first FIFA/JVC U-16 World Cup.That the team is known today as Golden Eaglets was a coinage by General Buhari when he received the team at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. Nduka Ugbade who captained that historic team is currently an assistant to the national U-20 coach, Manu Garba. He was also part of the crew that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in UAE.Buhari’s love for sports has not been loud, but it is on record that he made a surprise appearance at the Abuja National Stadium when Nigeria hosted Brazil in an international friendly. It was during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime when Buhari was in the opposition.No one can say, for sure, where the retired General would position sports in the scheme of things as throughout his campaign for this election, not a word was said on sports.The President-elect must however note that sports form a very critical sector in the life of the nation. Those who actively engage in sports are the youth who are the future of the nation. Sports today is more that just a pastime. Sport is a multi billion dollar industry which can offer employment to millions of our youths. The sports sector deserves the best brains. Seasoned brains that can turn the fortunes of our sports around. Sports is practical and results are the only determining factor that influences team selection, appointments. The President-elect must therefore avoid considerations other than excellence in making appointments to the sector.