Press Releases

Salceda: DA “better be ready” for “rapidly evolving” bird flu; Batangas, Cebu likely to be ‘hotspots’

June 3rd, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) said on Saturday that “contingencies have to be made” to prepare the country for the “rapidly evolving” avian influenza that is now affecting mammals and migratory birds in South America. The World Health Organization is warning against an “evolving” the H5N1 avian influenza virus which has now become “the largest outbreak of avian influenza the world had seen.”

“The nature of these things is that they come. It will come to the Philippines. No doubt,” Salceda said. Salceda is also a Vice Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Salceda said that Vietnam, Egypt, and China are already undertaking massive poultry vaccination programs, and that France is doing it in the last quarter of the year.

“There are high risk areas – areas where both wildlife avian migration and poultry raising are heavily concentrated. The hotspots will really be Batangas and Cebu since both are heavy on avian migration and heavy on poultry raising – number 1 and number 3 for top producing provinces,” Salceda warned.

“If any wildlife-to-farm contagion is going to happen in the country with H5N1, you can bet on it happening in these two. So, our surveillance and mitigation efforts should be concentrated in these provinces,” Salceda added.

“In any case, we need contingencies. Inflation momentum has definitely halted. But an avian flu pandemic will threaten our food supply, especially chicken and eggs, both cheap sources of protein.”

In response to the developing global situation, Salceda suggested that “the President constitute an IATF for animal disease.”

“The DA should be able to call upon the resources and expertise of other agencies. So an Inter-Agency Task Force with the DA as Chair and with key members from other agencies should be on the agenda,” Salceda said.

Salceda also suggested that the DA prepare mitigation measures such as agricultural insurance for poultry farms, low-interest loans for biosafety investments through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, and disease surveillance mechanisms among farmer groups.

“I don’t think it’s a question of if. It’s a matter of when. Readiness never hurts. Anyway, Congress is ready to help, and if need be, it should also be discussed in the budget” Salceda said.

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