Kamis, 24 April 2008

Indonesia says bird flu virus-sharing battle not about money

Indonesia does not want money for its bird flu virus samples - it wants governments and
pharmaceutical companies to come up with a mechanism that will ensure future pandemic vaccines are accessible to developing nations.

That could include creating a multilateral trust that would enable price tiering or bulk purchasing of lifesaving vaccines, an adviser to Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Wednesday.

Widjaja Lukito was responding to comments made by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, who accused Indonesia of withholding virus samples from the World Health Organization since early 2007 because it wanted royalties or other monetary benefits.

"This is not a line we want to cross," Leavitt told The Associated Press at the end of a quick stopover in Indonesia last week. "Because it means the next unique virus we come across, wherever it is, we'll end up with people who say there is a price to pay for the virus."

He repeated the allegation on his blog, saying Supari's bottom line appeared to be "share samples, get paid."

Indonesia - seen as a potential hotspot for a pandemic because of its high density of chickens and humans - denied that was the case.

Lukito said he thought there may have been poor communication on both sides.

"There are many types of benefit programs that can be discussed," said Lukito, noting that the U.S. and Indonesia agreed during Leavitt's visit to set up an expert panel on the issue. "One could be a kind of revolving fund developed by pharmaceutical companies."

Another, he said, could be to create a multilateral trust - funded by contributions from governments, influenza vaccine manufacturers and individuals - to make sure vaccines could be produced and distributed in a fair and equitable manner.

Suggestions at a WHO meeting in Geneva late last year included tiered pricing of vaccines, bulk purchasing, and other procurement mechanisms that take into consideration how much governments could afford for vaccines, Lukito said.

Indonesia has been hardest hit by bird flu since it began plaguing Asian poultry stocks in late 2003, with its 107 human deaths accounting for nearly half the 240 recorded fatalities worldwide. The virus remains hard for people to catch, but scientists worry it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic that could kill millions.

Under the existing virus-sharing system, poor countries are obliged to send samples to WHO, which then makes them available to a handful of pharmaceutical companies to use in vaccine production. Wealthy nations have stockpiled tons of bird flu vaccines, while Indonesia and other developing countries have limited supplies.

Many international health experts said Supari had a point when she bucked WHO's decades-old virus sharing system. But by withholding bird flu samples, health experts note, she is impeding the global body's ability to monitor whether the virus is morphing into a more dangerous form.

Leavitt wrote in his blog April 15 that his patience was wearing thin.

Supari was trying to put a price tag on virus samples, he said, something the U.S. could not support.

"We cannot be party to an arrangement that will undo 60 years of one of the world's great public health successes," he said.

"Linking sample-sharing to payment in any form will immediately begin to erode our ability to make vaccines at all, because once the practice of free and open sharing of viruses stops, the slope is slippery, and there will be no end to the demands." (**)

The Associated Press , The Jakarta Post | Thu, 04/24/2008 3:12 PM | World

Tidak ada komentar:


© 2007 Democracy for Indonesia Development: Indonesia says bird flu virus-sharing battle not about money | Design by Template Unik

Template unik dari rohman

---[[ Skip to top ]]---