Influenza remains a critical disease

Admin | Rabu, 17 Oktober 2012

Even though many people do not take influenza seriously, the illness remains one of the most anticipated diseases by officials at health quarantine posts across the country, a senior health official says. Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the Health MinistryÔÇÖs director general for disease control and environmental health (P2PL), said that influenza was still a critical disease because it is caused by viruses that mutate. If we talk about public health at the international level, influenza remains a critical disease we must continually anticipate. From time to time, the virus can rapidly mutate into a more lethal strain, Tjandra said on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of a twoweek basic leadership training for health quarantine officers in Jakarta on Sunday. The training, held annually since 2010, was attended by 90 port health quarantine workers from throughout the country. During the training, the officials learned leadership skills that will help them prevent the transnational spread of diseases that have the potential to create epidemics as mandated by the 2011 Health Minister Regulation on Port Health Offices. The regulation mandates that health quarantine officers at border crossings take preventive measures such as epidemiological surveillance; drug, food, cosmetics and hazardous substance controls; and new and reemerging diseases safety measures. Baharullah, 39, a physician from Nunukan, East Kalimantan, shared his experience on how difficult it was to prevent the spread of diseases in borders areas. Working as the chief of the Nunukan Port health office, he must control an intense flow of goods and people across the border. Every day, he said, health quarantine officers at Nunukan Port were dealing with Indonesian migrant workers repatriated by the Malaysian government from Tawau. They were repatriated from Malaysia particularly due to documentrelated problems; but health issues, including HIV/AIDS, surrounding the repatriation have been some of the most serious concerns that we are dealing with, Baharullah told The Jakarta Post. A lack of discipline among health quarantine workers means that it was still difficult for the port health office to implement proper preventive measures in accordance with standardized procedure, he said. Following procedures is important at health quarantine posts as any failure will increase the risks of disease transmission. So, health quarantine workers who have received the training can hopefully carry out work in accordance with procedures, said Baharullah. Cholera and yellow fever were considered as the most anticipated diseases before the 2005 International Health Regulation (IHR) issued by the World Health Organization required countries to assess their capacity in surveilling and responding to 13 public health risks. The risks include ebola, measles, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), polio, cholera, lung pests, yellow fever, vital hemorrhagic fever, West Nile fever, new subtypes of influenza and other diseases deemed critical such as dengue fever, Rift Valley fever and meningococcal disease. In an epidemiologic survey in 2010, health quarantine officers from the Tanjung Priok Port health office (KKP) encountered six Indonesian migrant workers coming from Malaysia with suspected cases of Avian flu. We sent them to RSPI Sulianto Saroso but the results of the tests were negative, said KKP chief Nandipita, who added that the Tanjung Priok Port had a crucial role in preventing the disease transmissions as over 60 percent of the nationÔÇÖs shipping passed through the port. Further, in 2012, the SoekarnoHatta airport health office had three people with suspected meningitis. source :

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