Declan Butler, reporter This is the personal blog of Declan Butler, a senior reporter at Nature. All views expressed here are mine, and not those of Nature. Contact me at

December 7, 2005

Indonesia threatens closure of US military lab that’s key to avian flu fight

Filed under: avian influenza — admin @ 10:41 pm

In tomorrow’s issue of Nature, I’ve a short exclusive on Indonesia seeking to close down Namru-2, a US military lab which has played a key role in helping build the country’s influenza surveillance and testing infrastructure.

Here’s a couple of snippets:

“The Indonesian government has ordered a US military research unit in Jakarta — a key player in the fight against avian flu — to cease all research by 31 December. If the unit closes, researchers say, it would be a major blow to efforts to control the avian flu outbreaks currently affecting humans and poultry across the country”

“Although the centre’s original agreement with Indonesia expired on January 2000, until recently the government had turned a blind eye to its continued operation. But on 23 November, Indonesia’s health ministry posted a memo on its website, dated 25 October, stating that “all NAMRU-2 activities must end by 31 December 2005″, and not be restarted without a new formal agreement. The memo was addressed to all health agencies and hospitals.”

There are a host of complex political, diplomatic, and scientific factors at play here, on both sides, which I’d be happy to go into, but the bottom line is that with a possible pandemic looming, resources are already short where we need them most — in the hotbeds of avian flu outbreaks — so this latest development requires urgent international attention.

Photo: Pig culling in Indonesia

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