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05BANGKOK5626 FLU PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS: THAILAND

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“39586”,”9/1/2005 8:18″,”05BANGKOK5626″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN”,

“05STATE151549”,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 005626

 

SIPDIS

 

NOFORN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2015

TAGS: EAGR, ECON, PGOV, PINR, SOCI, TBIO, TH

SUBJECT: FLU PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS: THAILAND

 

REF: STATE 151549

 

Classified By: DCM ALEX ARVIZU, REASON 1.4(D).

 

1. (C/NF) Summary: The responses below are in reply to

questions contained in Reftel. In general, Thailand is

increasingly capable and increasingly transparent in

detecting, reporting, and planning for and responding to

avian influenza outbreaks in animals and humans. Although

Ministry of Public Health personnel would benefit from more

intensive training in pandemic control measures and

laboratory diagnostic methods, and the Department of

Livestock Development would benefit from technical assistance

to improve its information systems management infrastructure,

Mission is confident that Thailand would respond rapidly,

effectively, and transparently to contain any outbreak of

avian influenza within its borders. End summary.

 

2. (C/NF) The following are Mission responses to questions

contained in Reftel:

 

Q. Where does preparing for an avian flu pandemic rank among

government priorities? Who and what would influence the

country to give the issue a higher priority?

 

A. This issue has the attention of the highest levels of the

Thai government. The Prime Minister has been directly

involved in the response, and committees have been formed at

various levels of the government to address the issue. Fresh

outbreaks among humans would likely raise it to the

government\’s top priority.

 

Q. Does the government have a strategy for preventing avian

flu from becoming a pandemic and containing a pandemic once

it occurs? If the country has a strategy, how capable is it

of implementing it?

 

A. Thailand has developed and published a plan for both

control of avian influenza in poultry and for a response to a

human influenza pandemic. These documents are publicly

available in English and Thai languages. Substantial

resources have been committed to avian influenza containment

and pandemic planning. Within the limits of national

resources, the Government of Thailand is capable of an

effective response to a human influenza pandemic.

 

Q. What measures has it taken to date to prepare for a

pandemic (stockpiling antiviral medications, conducting

surveillance, developing human vaccines, etc.)?

 

A. The Government of Thailand now has a national stockpile of

700,000 treatment courses of the antiviral drug oseltamivir.

Surveillance and Rapid Response Teams (SRRT) have been

trained and organized in every province of Thailand. The

National Institute of Health maintains a laboratory capable

of processing large numbers of specimens and accurately

identifying avian influenza in humans.

 

Q. How capable is the country of detecting and responding to

an outbreak, especially in rural areas?

 

A. The Government of Thailand is capable of identifying

clusters of two or more cases of avian influenza in a

locality within a few days in most cases. Isolated cases of

human infections might go undetected.

 

Q. How truthful will the government be in reporting the scope

of any outbreak?

A. It is possible that some under-reporting may take place

(new outbreaks could have a ruinous effect on its poultry

exports and its tourism industry). Over the past 12-16

months, however, the Government of Thailand has been

increasingly transparent in reporting suspected and confirmed

animal and human cases of avian influenza.

Laboratory-confirmed human cases have been promptly reported

to WHO. Likewise, outbreaks of the infection in poultry have

been promptly reported to the OIE.

 

Q. How willing and capable is the government of imposing

quarantines and social distancing measures (closing schools,

public gatherings, mass transit)?

A. The Government of Thailand is willing and capable of

establishing quarantine measures on its population if

necessary. Contingency plans for such measures have been

established, and the Ministries of Defense, Transportation,

and Education have been included in recent pandemic planning

meetings.

 

Q. What are the critical gaps that need to be filled in order

to enhance the country\’s disease detection and outbreak

response capabilities? What is the country\’s greatest need

from the US or other international organizations?

 

A. Additional, more intensive training for Ministry of Public

Health physicians and epidemiologists on avian influenza and

pandemic control measures is needed. On-site training for

sophisticated molecular and serologic laboratory diagnostic

methods is also needed. Technical assistance to improve the

information systems management infrastructure at the

Department of Livestock Development would be useful.

 

Q. Would government leaders be receptive to messages from US

leaders through a bilateral approach, at a multilateral forum

such as the UN or APEC, or through bilateral contacts with

another country?

 

A. Yes to all. Thai leaders would be receptive to messages

indicating a desire on the part of the US to support and

collaborate on efforts to control avian influenza and plan

for a human pandemic with technical assistance such as

advanced training in laboratory diagnostics. Thailand has

assumed a regional leadership role on this issue and has the

capability and willingness to function as a regional

coordinator and partner for avian flu preparedness activities.

 

Q. Who is the key \”go-to\” person or office for USG officials

to interface with?

 

A. Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang and Dr. Supamitr

Chunsutiwat at the Thailand Ministry of Public Health.

 

Q. How well-informed is the population about the avian flu

threat and about measures they should take to mitigate the

threat?

 

A. The Government of Thailand has undertaken measures to

inform the public, including the distribution of printed

media, radio, and television programs. Outside of Thai

farmers and others directly engaged in applying control

measures to halt the avian/avian transmission of the virus,

however, the general Thai population is not particularly

well-informed about the avian flu threat. In particular, the

overall population knows little about the evidence of

human-to-human transmission or the possibility of mutation

that could launch a human pandemic. The broader Thai public,

therefore, has little knowledge about the potential

epidemiological implications of avian influenza mutation, the

need for rapid response to contain the spread of

human-to-human transmission, or the public health measures

required as part of that response. A recent US CDC study in

Nakhon Province in Northeast Thailand suggested that the

population there is informed regarding risk factors for avian

influenza infection, but that more work remains to effect

real behavioral changes.

 

Q. Is the host country already working with any international

organizations or other countries on the avian flu issue? Are

government leaders likely to ask for assistance from the US

or other countries?

 

A. The Government of Thailand has met with numerous political

representatives and maintains collaborative relationships

with technical experts from several regional countries

affected by avian influenza. The Government of Thailand has

asked for technical assistance from the US CDC in the past.

The US CDC continues to actively collaborate on the issue,

particularly by improving surveillance and laboratory

diagnostic capacity. The Government of Thailand is not

likely to ask for direct financial aid to address this issue,

but welcomes technical cooperation and assistance at

different levels.

 

Q. Would its military enforce quarantines?

 

A. Yes, in addition to local police forces.

 

Q. What would it want from the US in return for its request

efforts?

 

A. The Government of Thailand would appreciate political

support and technical assistance from the US to establish and

maintain a regional stockpile of antiviral drugs and personal

protective equipment.

 

Q. What mechanisms are available for providing additional

information to the population, particularly in rural areas,

and how effective are these measures?

 

A. National radio and broadcast television are the only media

to reach all parts of Thailand, and even that extensive

broadcast range includes small populations whose

comprehension of spoken Thai language is minimal. Because

all national broadcast radio and TV are government-owned or

affiliated, the Royal Thai Government could quickly

disseminate emergency information via these national media

with a good prospect of reaching a substantial proportion of

the population within as little as 48 hours. Many local

villages also employ loudspeaker systems to deliver messages

to the public. As always, the clarity of the message and the

speed with which the Royal Thai Government embraced the need

to communicate it would determine the success in any

emergency information campaign.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 5:52 am

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