About the Authors: John Schnitter serves in the Office of Public Outreach in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, and Kendra Chittenden serves at the U.S. Agency for International Development/Indonesia in Jakarta.
Assistant Secretary Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs visited with local village leaders in Bali, Indonesia, on February 27 to learn first-hand about their surveillance system for detecting and preventing the spread of infectious diseases in their communities, particularly the deadly H5N1, or avian influenza, virus. As part of U.S. government efforts to increase bilateral collaboration with Indonesia, Dr. Jones -- along with representatives from the U.S. Embassy Jakarta, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) -- met with members of Indonesia's Ministries of Agriculture and Health, the Sedang village leader, and the local poultry farmers, to learn more about the success and challenges the region has had in controlling H5N1.
In Sedang, a village of roughly 1,000 households in the Badung district of Bali, Dr. Jones interacted with villagers who are at the first line of defense against an H5N1 outbreak. Avian influenza first struck Sedang's backyard poultry farms in May 2007. In response, officers from the Bedang district's Participatory Disease Surveillance and Response (PDSR) team, founded in 2006, took immediate action. Thanks to PDSR's efforts, as well as close monitoring of the poultry flocks by local residents, Sedang has not had another outbreak.
The effort to limit the spread of avian influenza has been successful in other parts of Bali as well. In fact, the Denpasar Local Disease Control Center, which coordinates the 36 PDSR teams located throughout Bali, has only recorded one outbreak in 2010. This is in sharp contrast to avian influenza's height in 2007, when 196 villages in the province were infected.
PDSR continues to provide Sedang support for disease prevention and awareness-raising activities. In addition, Sedang was recently selected to be a pilot village for the UNICEF-funded "Tanggap Flu Burung" (Respond to Bird Flu) program.
The United States continues to see Indonesia as a strong partner in the fight to prevent a global H5N1 pandemic, and is extremely grateful to those in places like Sedang who remain ever vigilant for signs of an outbreak in their own communities.