6 Jun 2018 //

On World Environment Day: Indonesia Still Facing the Threats of Emerging Infectious Diseases

In Indonesia, over the past 11 years, 167 people have died of bird flu, from 199 people infected with H5N1 virus, in 15 provinces and 58 districts / cities. While in India, until the end of May 2018 at least 13 people died in the state of Kerala, due to infection of Nipah virus.

Like the avian influenza virus which transmitted from animal (zoonoses) – especially poultry -Nipah virus, first identified in 1999 after the outbreak in Malaysia and Singapore, is transmitted by bats, pigs or other animals to humans. This virus has a death rate of up to 70 percent and can cause encephalitis as well as serious respiratory system disorders.

Both zoonoses diseases, Avian Flu and Nipah, are emerging infectious diseases (EID), or diseases not previously found in humans, or have not been found for a long time then re-emerging. Emerging infectious diseases that have plagued the world among others and have a high mortality rate are: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, followed by Avian Influenza or bird flu in 2004-2005 (440 deaths), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome- Corona Virus (787 deaths) in 2012, Ebola in 2014-2016 (11,310 deaths), and Zika at the end of 2015.

“Environmental health affects human and animal health, especially wildlife. WHO data says every year more than 12 million people die worldwide because of the unhealthy environment, “explained Indra Eksploitasia, Director of Biodiversity Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Being in second place as a country with biodiversity and diversity of fauna species in the world, Indonesia is vulnerable to zoonotic threats. The interaction between human beings, animals and the environment become one of the factors of the emergence of EID in Indonesia.

“One of the conditions that increase the risk of zoonotic disease is the conversion of forest land into settlements or plantations. This will lead to higher interaction between wildlife and human beings while the study says that the highest zoonotic disease reservoirs exist in wildlife such as migratory birds, bats, long-tailed monkeys and rats. “This is stated by the Head of Sub-Directorate of Biological Safety, Directorate General of Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystem, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Lu’lu Agustina, SP, M.Si.

Lu’lu Agustina added that human behaviour and demographic factors can also affect the epidemiology of zoonoses derived from wildlife. “Hunting and eating wild meat can increase the risk of contracting zoonotic diseases,” she added.

To increase the capacity of the Government of Indonesia in preventing and reducing the impact of emerging infectious diseases (EID) and zoonosis, the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture (KEMENKO PMK), Ministry of Health (KEMENKES), Ministry of Agriculture (KEMENTAN) and Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KEMENLHK ) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) 2 program, applying the One Health approach.

The One Health Approach is an integrated effort of interdisciplinary science and institutions, implemented at the local, national, and global levels, to achieve optimal health for people, animals and the environment. One Health recognizes that human health, animals and the environment are interconnected.

The EPT2 program applies the One Health approach through capacity building activities, strengthening surveillance systems, research, implementing cross-sector coordination guidelines, and joint case management.

Until mid-2018, the Government of Indonesia has 32 modules of curriculum of One Health for EID and zoonotic approaches, one cross-sectoral coordination guideline for EID and zoonotic outbreaks with One Health approach, 74 main trainers and 267 trained field workers.

District Government of Boyolali applied One Health approach to respond 22 cases of alleged rabies caused by dog bites and long tailed monkeys (Macaca Fascicularis) from January to October 2017. Cross-sectoral communication and coordination from Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) of Central Java Province together with Health Office and the Office of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries of Boyolali district successfully overcome this case.

Particularly for the environmental sector, KEMENLHK has strengthened its surveillance system by launching a healthy system (http://sehatsatli.menlhk.go.id). Sehatsatli is an information system for reporting web-based wildlife incidents. This system became the first step of investigation on suspected cases of zoonotic diseases originating from wildlife.

Efforts to prevent and reduce the risk of emerging and zoonotic infections are the responsibility of all parties, both government and society.

“We can participate to prevent and reduce the risk of emerging infections and zoonoses one of them by maintaining the environment,” explained Head of Sub-Directorate of Biological Safety, Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

According to Lu’lu Agustina, the use of land according to its allocation, reforestation, conservation and protection of flora and fauna wealth including stopping the hunting and trade of live animals is a step to prevent the emergence of emerging and zoonotic diseases in Indonesia.

Jonathan Ross, USAID Indonesia Health Office Director mentioned that factors such as population increase, changes in animal habitats, increased economic growth, food security and globalization, make Indonesia vulnerable to EID. “Multisectoral cooperation is needed to prevent and control Emerging Infectious Diseases or EID,” says Jonathan Ross. “The success in Boyolali clearly demonstrates that multisectoral cooperation plays an important role in preventing EID.  The United States is pleased to be partnering with Indonesia to address this issue,” said Ross.

USAID EPT2 Program is a collaboration between the Indonesian government and the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), PREDICT-2 (led by the Bogor Agricultural Institute and Eijkman Institute), Preparedness and Response, One Health Workforce (led by One Health network in Indonesia or INDOHUN), the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious disease and zoonoses.

For further information please contact:

  1. Head of Public Relation Bureau of Ministry of Environment and Forestry – Djati Witjaksono Hadi – 081375633330
  1. Outreach and Communication Specialist USAID Indonesia – Swiny Andina – 08118080084