PM Seeks Prime-Time Spots for Bird Flu Lessons

People should eat chicken and eggs without fear, and television and ra­dio should provide free airtime for avian influenza educational spots, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tues­day.

Hun Sen instructed Information Minister Khieu Kanharith to ask the broadcast media help to educate the public, specifying that broad­casters should devote prime-time spots during pop music shows to bird flu in­for­mation.

“We should not be so afraid that we are scared to eat eggs,” Hun Sen said. “[Chicken] is not a problem as long as it is well cooked and we do not eat chickens that die,” he add­ed.

World Health Organization epi­de­­mio­logist Dr Megge Miller said Hun Sen had asked for free broadcast time in 2005, but that stations had begun asking for fees again, which strained the Health Minis­try’s budget.

UN Children’s Fund Country Rep­resentative Rodney Hatfield said Unicef is collaborating with the government and the WHO to educate the public through the media as well as in schools.

“What is obvious from the experience of the past week is that we need a more intensive approach,” Hat­­field said in reference to last week’s bird flu death.

Villagers in Kompong Speu prov­ince, where the 3-year old died, re­ported that the toddler liked to play with chickens and that they knew nothing about bird flu.

“TV does have wide reach. While not many people own televisions…a much higher percentage watch them,” he said.

Khieu Kanharith said he had al­ready conveyed the message to broad­casters. “This is for the collective benefit,” he said, adding that some stations could begin airing ad­di­­tional spots as early as today.



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