Govt keeping public in dark

KATHMANDU: Bird flu has spread in several parts of the country but the government has not revealed the truth except H5N1 outbreak at Gharipatan in Pokhara.

Public health specialists and vets have been accusing the government of playing with the lives of the public and private vets in the field. They also expressed fear that the disease has gone out of government’s control.

Department of Livestock Services has claimed that among the samples coming from several places, the samples of Kohalpur Ward No 4 and Fultekara Ward No 7 of Banke district, Budhabare Ward No 7 of Jhapa district and Chainpur Ward No 8 of Chitwan districts were found H5N1 positive. Even the authorities concerned have admitted that the Gharipatan was not yet avian influenza free zone.

Director General of DLS Pravakar Pathak had informed about the outbreak and its potential to spread to other places to the National Avian Influenza Control Committee recently. But the government has not declared the outbreak at these places.

Experts claimed that

the local associations of the poultry entrepreneurs had been compensating the victim farmers to

check the spread of panic and help them tide over business loss.

General secretary of Nepal Veterinarians Association Dr Subir Singh said the government had not only played with the lives of the public but also with the lives of vets by not informing about the bird flu outbreak. “They have not informed the private vets who have been working in the field yet,” he said, adding, “We are also under serious threat.”

He urged the government to be transparent on such a serious issue that directly concerned the public health.

Dr Singh claimed that the bird flu control programme and the strategy of the government had failed, as bird flu outbreak had been reported in several parts of the country despite efforts to bring the disease under control.

“Everyone will support the government if they begin controlling the disease by declaring the outbreak,” he added. Singh also said local poultry entrepreneurs had been compensating the local farmers for their loss, which is twice as much as the government provides to the farmers, as they feared their business would collapse.

DLS sent Dr Nar Bahadur Rajwar, Dr Ram Krishna Khatiwada and Dr Keshav Premi to Chainpur of Chitwan on February 20, Dr Kedar Karki to Nepalgunj on February 22 and Dr Bijay Kant Jha and Dr Purnima Manandhar to Dudhrakshya of Rupandehi on February 25.

Director General of DLS Pathak, however, declined to comment.