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SPECIAL REPORT: When avian flu control meets cultural resistance

first_imgEditor’s note: This is the second of a two-part special report on bird flu in Vietnam. Part one, “Vietnam’s success against avian flu may offer blueprint for others,” appeared Oct 25.Oct 26, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – HANOI, Vietnam – Nguyen Van Tich’s farm lies at the end of a narrow dirt road that runs under the tall edges of rice paddies and snakes between old bomb craters turned into fish ponds.The tucked-away property, one of the largest in this 10,000-person district 20 miles from Hanoi, is new-looking and prosperous. In the 7 years they have owned it, 44-year-old Tich and his wife have stocked their 1.75 acres with citrus trees, coconut palms, pig pens, a duck pond, and a long brick coop filled with fuzzy chicks that skitter away from a stranger’s shadow.The couple went into debt to build the farm, and their care for their investment shows in the wire mesh that swathes the chicks’ shelter and the vaccinations recently administered to their 1,000 ducks and hens—measures prescribed by Vietnam’s central government to contain the threat of H5N1 avian influenza.”I am a professional; [this farm] is my life,” Tich said through an interpreter. “If I lose it, I lose everything.”The willingness of Tich, pictured at right,* and thousands of small farmers like him to follow the government’s orders does much to explain Vietnam’s dramatic change of fortune on avian flu, from one of the countries hardest hit by the virus to one of the most successful in controlling it (see part one of this series).The Vietnamese government is openly proud of those results, and international animal and human health experts have applauded its apparent success. Yet some of those experts caution, and interviews with farmers and consumers confirm, that Vietnam’s continued success is not guaranteed—because it may depend on new and stricter government prescriptions that the populace may find hard to accept.”What is being talked about is trying to change really basic behavior that people have been engaged in all their lives,” said Dr. Richard Brown, a World Health Organization (WHO) epidemiologist based in Hanoi. “It is going to be a slow process.”As the H5N1 outbreak expands, planners worldwide are acknowledging that scientific and political efforts to control the virus will fail unless they are accompanied by willing cultural change. Vietnam’s attempts to create that change are being closely watched.A model for successVietnam’s success against avian flu has made the country an island of viral suppression in a sea of transmission—this year, according to reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), H5N1 has recurred in neighboring Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand.And Vietnam’s successful measures are stringent and strictly maintained.In Ho Chi Minh City, for instance, raising chickens in the city has been banned, and chickens raised in the countryside are inspected twice before they cross the city limits—once by rural authorities and a second time at one of four municipal checkpoints. More than 2,000 trucks pass through the checkpoints each day; if the birds’ paperwork is in order, the truck carrying them is allowed to proceed along limited designated routes to one of three new slaughterhouses.If the birds do not pass inspection, they are confiscated on the spot. “We take them to the incinerator,” Dr. Truong Thi Kim Chau, vice-director of the city’s sub-department of animal health, said through an interpreter.The country’s health authorities do not take success for granted.”The risk of bird flu still exists in Vietnam,” said Dr. Bui Quang Anh, the Hanoi-based director general of the department of animal health in the agriculture ministry, pointing to the likelihood that the virus still circulates in ducks, geese, and quail within Vietnam, and the possibility of its being carried over the Chinese border in smuggled live chickens.Strict additional measuresTo counter that perceived threat, the ministry proposes strict additional prevention measures in its Integrated National Operational Program for Avian and Human Influenza, known because of its binding as the “Green Book.”The measures vary. One proposal is to permanently ban the raising of ducks, an integral component of the rice-growing economy because they are herded into harvested paddies to clean and fertilize them. Another is to take poultry raising out of the hands of the backyard growers, who make up 70% of producers, and concentrate the industry in large, biosecure farms.Most controversially, for many Vietnamese, the government proposes to alter the way that chicken, a major food, changes hands. It is phasing out the markets where consumers choose live birds and have them slaughtered, and substituting birds killed in a modern slaughterhouse and sold shrink-wrapped and chilled in supermarkets.The change—already instituted in Ho Chi Minh City and under way in the north—would alter much more than basic commerce. It challenges deep-rooted food preferences, because already-dead chickens are considered less tasty and nutritious. It could affect social patterns, because markets are where neighbors meet each morning. It touches even religious practice: Slaughtering and cooking chicken on behalf of family ancestors is a crucial observance during Lunar New Year.”This is the big challenge in Vietnam,” said Dr. Le Truong Giang, vice-director of Ho Chi Minh City’s health department. “Not all the population agree, but more and more people agree with us.”But in Hanoi, Tran Thi Tuyet—a university graduate working in a silk shop to perfect her English—vigorously disagreed.”We know bird flu is very dangerous,” she said. “But Vietnamese people, we like to go to the market, we want to see the birds. Where I live, outside the city, there are many markets selling chickens still.”Meeting cultural resistanceIn Vietnam’s health agencies, and in the cities and villages, there are scattered signs that acceptance of anti-bird flu measures may not be complete.The two-shot poultry vaccination campaign mandated last year by the agriculture ministry inoculated approximately 160 million birds—80% of the country’s total—in late 2005, Dr. Anh said. But a repeat this year, meant to catch a new crop of birds, vaccinated 140 million, about 65%. And a campaign to halve the country’s duck population, which stood at 60 million in 2003, has stalled at 40 million birds.”We are thinking of how to change the jobs of the duck farmers in the countryside,” Dr. Anh said. “The farmers are very poor. We should have something else for them to do.”On a mid-September morning in Viet Doan commune—where 1,500 ducks were culled in 2005—400 local farmers followed along eagerly as a team from CARE International staged games and contests with an anti-flu theme. The gathering was part of a program that the humanitarian agency has been testing in Vietnam since 2004 that coaches rural residents to evaluate their own understanding of avian flu and teaches them preventive measures, from handwashing to keeping poultry away from other animals.”Some food shops in the commune have stopped selling poultry meat or duck’s blood,” said Dr. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, a trainer on the program’s staff. “Some farmers keep their poultry behind a fence. But it is difficult to change behavior; it requires a long time.”Tich, the farmer, did not attend the gathering. At his farm down the road, there was a modest fence, two strands of barbed wire slung loosely between low posts. A chicken flapped over it, landing clumsily in a mob of month-old ducklings (see left*)—ducklings that, under a strict interpretation of government guidelines, should not exist.Asked about the ducks, Tich looked nonplussed. News of the ban, he said, had reached him only 10 days ago; he had bought the ducks 3 weeks before.”What I heard is, the local authority just encouraged not to raise new ducks.” he said through the interpreter. “It is not a policy.”Tich had complied with most of the policies in the government campaign against avian flu. In addition to vaccinating his adult birds and confining his chicks until they are a month old, he scours his chicken coops with disinfectant every time a crop is sold, wears gloves and a mask when he kills a bird for his own use, and buries dead chickens in a hole with lime instead of eating them or feeding them to fish.But he seemed skeptical of the effort and expense in some of the further measures yet to come.”Avian influenza is a very big concern for our family, because we have invested quite a lot of capital in our poultry,” he said. “But if the government banned duck-raising, I might switch to raising other animals. I might not grow poultry anymore.”*Photos ©2006 Maryn McKenna. Used with permission.Reporting for this story was supported by the East-West Center, Honolulu (www.eastwestcenter.org).last_img read more

Swedish FSA rejects cutting cap requirements for green assets

first_imgA government proposal to ease capital requirements for pension funds’ environmental sustainable investments in Sweden’s latest batch of IORP II legislation has been given the thumbs down by the country’s financial watchdog.In its response to the consultation on draft legislation amending Sweden’s main IORP II act, which came into force at the end of last year, the FSA said: “The proposal that the societal interest in environmentally-sustainable investments should be taken into account in the capital requirement calculation should be recast.“It is not appropriate to further reduce the capital requirement for such investments until it has been shown that they routinely imply a lower financial risk,” the FSA (Finansinspektionen, FI) said in its written response to the memorandum “En översyn av regleringen för tjänstepensionsföretag” (A review of the regulations for occupational pension companies), which has been out for consultation with a deadline of yesterday.The memorandum contains several amendments to the main IORP II act, taking account of four parliamentary demands for solutions to contentious aspects of the law – which had been rushed though at the end of last year to avoid EU penalties for lateness. The memorandum produced by the Financial Markets Department includes the proposal that the capital requirement for market risk included in the risk-sensitive capital requirement should include a subgroup for risk related to “approved infrastructure investments”.The proposal goes on: “The public interest in achieving environmentally sustainable investments must be taken into account when calculating the capital requirement for approved infrastructure investments.”The FSA said it endorsed the first part of this proposal, but interpreted the second part as meaning environmental sustainability should be a criterion for approving infrastructure investments – and that the capital requirement for these approved assets should be lowered from the current level.“FI does not consider that the capital adequacy rules should be adjusted in order to promote goals other than protecting policyholders and safeguarding financial stability, regardless of whether the business is about sustainability or anything else,” the authority wrote.Capital requirements rules should not be a political instrument, it said, but should be consistent with valuation principles for balance sheets and reflect the real risks faced by occupational pension companies.“It is therefore not advisable to lower the capital requirement to strengthen the incentives for investment in infrastructure,” the FSA said.In its consultation response, the authority also singled out two other parts of the draft legislation for criticism, rejecting the idea of reducing risk-sensitive capital requirements by a further adjustment amount, and calling for further investigation into the proposal to allow occupational pension companies’ safety reserves to be included in the capital base.In December, the governor of Denmark’s central bank, the former ATP chief executive officer Lars Rohde, at the IPE Conference spoke out against the idea of supporting green growth by reducing banks’ capital charges for climate-friendly lending.Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here.last_img read more

DD LOCAL: BURTONPORT COMMUNITY NEWS

first_img3rd Annual Great Rosses Turkey TrotCalling all you hunter/gatherers amongst you. You are all invited to come along to “3rd Annual Great Rosses Turkey Trot” to see which of you can bring the xmas dinner home. The trot, which is a fun c5km Fun Run, jog or walk for all the family, is being held on Sunday December 15th @12.30 and is leaving from St. Columba’s Community Centre, Burtonport. Registration at the community centre from 12.  RACE RULESWhen you enter, you have to give your estimated finishing time. The winner of the race is the person who gets closest to their predicted time. Eoin’s decision final Prizes: Turkey’s for the Winners – lots of spot prizes to random participants  CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR, BurtonportSunday December 15th from 11.30 – 3.00.There will also be a CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR in the Community Centre after mass on the same day as THE GREAT ROSSES TURKEY TROT. This is usually one of the last craft fairs of the Christmas shopping period so ideal for all the late shoppers amongst us.If you would like to book a table at the fair please contact Margaret on 0876317683. Tables cost €10 each and it is necessary to book prior to arriving. Christmas @ The Breakfast ArTBoXThe Breakfast ArTBoX is an activity group suited to toddlers and their carers. It is held in the CDP building in Dungloe every Monday morning between 10 – 12. An ideal group to help develop your child social and creative side whilst giving you a chance to meet other parents/carers and build friendships. Cost €2 per child – includes all art materials, tea/coffee and a light snack. DD LOCAL: BURTONPORT COMMUNITY NEWS was last modified: December 9th, 2013 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:DD LOCAL: BURTONPORT COMMUNITY NEWSlast_img read more