INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Pandemic Flu Preparations in the Maldives -

Published: Wed 2 Dec 2009 07:31 AM
VZCZCXRO5023
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHLM #1092/01 3360731
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 020731Z DEC 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0866
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 9140
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 7386
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3538
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9701
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 2603
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA PRIORITY 0470
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 0103
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 6992
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 0386
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1326
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001092
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR SCA/INSB
STATE FOR OES/IHB
STATE FOR AID/GH/HIDN
USDA PASS TO APHIS
HHS PASS TO CDC
HHS FOR OGHA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV TBIO KFLU SOCI CASC MV
SUBJECT: PANDEMIC FLU PREPARATIONS IN THE MALDIVES -
ASSISTANCE NEEDED
REF: STATE 111924
COLOMBO 00001092 001.2 OF 002
1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph 5.
2. (U) SUMMARY: To date, there have been only 32 confirmed
cases of H1N1 (Swine flu) in the Maldives with one reported
death. Maldivians are increasingly concerned with the
country's ability to cope with a full-blown outbreak. The
Maldives has a preparedness plan, although it is described
by some as 'inadequate.' The airport and sea port are
monitored for incoming passengers of concern. The
country's few hospitals and health care facilities have
taken some measures to prepare for a possible outbreak.
The country is working with the World Health Organization
(WHO) and has a small stock of Tamiflu, but additional flu
vaccine and medicine are urgently needed. END SUMMARY.
3. (U) The Government of the Maldives (GOM) tracks,
monitors, and shares information about the H1N1 situation
in the country (see www.health.gov.mv). While there have
been only 32 confirmed cases of H1N1 in the country, and
only one reported death, the GOM has devel Ports, Customs, Immigration and
the private sector were involved in developing the plan.
While comprehensive, the country has only drafted standard
operating procedures (SOPs) for the Male' atoll (where
roughly one-third of the country's residents live) and was
therefore described by some interlocutors as 'inadequate.'
Still, the port authorities do thermally screen incoming
passengers and health authorities are prepared to sequester
possible arrivals at a small hotel near the airport in
Male' where doctors and other professionals can tend to
patients' needs. The Maldives has less than 2000 adult
doses and 350 child doses of Tamiflu on hand -- adequate at
this early stage, but insufficient should an outbreak occur.
4. (U) The WHO is present in the Maldives and assists the
government on a range of health issues, including pandemic
flu. Together, an outreach program is in place and health
care providers, NGOs, and community-based organizations are
actively involved in community outreach and raising
awareness throughout the country's roughly 200 inhabited
islands (out of 1190 total islands). The media is also
closely following and reporting on the international
coverage of flu outbreaks globally, and concern among the
population is growing. In the past months, the Maldives
has strengthened risk communication, surveillance,
laboratory facilities, stockpiling of medicines and other
supplies, and enhancing intensive care facilities. Public
awareness campaigns are utilizing all available media
outlets, although GOM officials readily admit that more
needs to be done. WHO and UNICEF are working together to
find additional funding to enhance these efforts.
5. (U) ACTION REQUEST: The GOM has identified 115,000 'at
risk' individuals in the country -- including pregnant
women, children, health care providers, the elderly, and
people with chronic diseases -- who are in need of the flu
vaccine. The GOM sent Post Diplomatic Note EA-US/B/2009/91,
received December 2, requesting nearly 150,000 vaccine doses.
Further conversations with the WHO representative in the
country demonstrate an urgent need for at least 50,000
adult and 10,000 pediatric vaccine doses, as well as
additional Tamiflu stock for children who get ill. As per
reftel, Post requests Department assistance in responding
positively to the Maldives request for assistance. Post
COLOMBO 00001092 002 OF 002
has forwarded a copy of the Diplomatic Note to SCA/INSB.
6. (SBU) COMMENT: In the past year, the Maldives has become
a pro-American, moderate-Muslim democracy, and its citizens
are looking to their new government to deliver results.
Unfortunately, until now, the GOM has not been successful
in procuring the needed vaccine. While the islands may
slow the spread of H1N1, it also hinders the government's
ability to respond to a critical outbreak. Providing
needed vaccines is the best method to limit mortality and
increase the people's faith in their fledgling democratic
government. END COMMENT.
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