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Red Cross Volunteers motivate villagers to part with their poultry
January 29th, 2008

The bird flu situation in West Bengal continues to be alarming. New blocks of two more districts, South 24 Parganas and Paschim Medinipur, have been struck by bird flu. According to the media reports, thirteen of the 19 districts of West Bengal have been declared bird flu-affected and so far 15.75-lakh poultry birds have been culled. Reports of the outbreak entering new areas have affected the culling operations undertaken by the government. More than 1.25-lakh birds have already died of the disease. The economic spin-offs are grim. The total loss suffered directly and indirectly because of the avian flu outbreak is estimated at more than Rs. 150 crore. The World Health Organization has said that it has been most serious outbreak of avian flu in the country.

Mr. Binoy Prasad Roy, Honorary Secretary, IRCS West Bengal State branch informed over phone that 100 brochures each on Avian Flu (Bengali version), which he had received from the National Headquarters was distributed in all the Districts. Due to excessive need the district branches had to make photo copies and distributing it. The district representatives, who have been trained under the Disaster Management Programme, are actively carrying out the awareness campaign on bird flu. They are sharing the information with the district administration and District Animal Husbandry Department. They are also visiting the communities and informing the unwilling, and at times angry villagers, about the pandemic and urging them to hand over poultry to the culling teams.

Mr. Salam Vishwaas, Secretary, IRCS Murshidabad District branch informed over phone that 50 volunteers have been mobilized who are disseminating information on bird flu by using the brochures. These volunteers have further trained volunteers at the block level. In each block 10 volunteers and 15 committee members are carrying out the awareness campaign and are getting hold of villagers who are unwilling to part with their chickens. So far 15,000 villagers in 110 villages of 11 blocks have been informed and covered under the campaign. Block level committee meetings are also being organized.

The National Headquarters is in regular touch with the West Bengal State branch and is closely monitoring the situation.

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