Public awareness of avian influenza

Bird flu
Kyrgyzstan borders and has close ties with a number of countries that have already experienced an outbreak of avian influenza (Kazakhstan, China, Russia and Turkey). It is also located at the intersection of migratory routes for wild birds, whose seasonal migrations increase the risk of disease. The rapid spread of avian influenza and its potential devastating impact on the poultry industry has raised awareness among government officials of all levels and the general public.

Communication program
Television and other media coverage of these outbreaks was very active, with reports of mass slaughter of poultry, large-scale sanitization of premises and equipment, and quarantine regimes imposed by several governments. Such attention from the media to this problem helped to raise public awareness of the high risk and danger of avian influenza, but, at the same time, unfortunately, some sensationalism in the presentation of information had an impact on a certain part of the population and caused panic in a number of communities. Some small poultry farmers reacted to such information from the media by slaughtering it, because they were afraid of bird flu in their farmstead or they were advised to do it by representatives of local authorities.
This study was carried out within the framework of an overall communication strategy as the basis for a communication program and action plan. The study was conducted in the form of an express survey during the period of the year when migratory birds fly south over the territory of Kyrgyzstan, thereby increasing the risk of disease.

The main objectives of the study
- providing officials and organizations involved in the prevention and control of avian influenza, an overall picture of public awareness of this phenomenon;
- identifying sources of information that are most trusted and considered effective;
- finding out what channels of information can be used to transmit information in the pre-pandemic and pandemic stages.

General recommendations for results
Hierarchy of information needs:
- methods of prevention and treatment of PG in humans
- what to do in case of a GHG outbreak and the need to report it
- Methods for the prevention and treatment of PG in poultry.

1. People believe that national television should be used as the main means of disseminating information.
2. News programs are the most appropriate way to disseminate information about GHG to adults. Children prefer to learn about PG from special films or cartoons.
3. Remote areas need to rely on official institutions and printed materials.
4. Veterinarians and health professionals should provide specific and detailed information.
5. Printed information should be disseminated in markets, shops and educational institutions.
6. Schools are the most important among local institutions - especially for targeting children.
7. In addition to text, booklets, brochures and announcements must also contain pictures and illustrations.
8. There is a particular need for information on GHGs, as the population is less confident about diseases in poultry than diseases in traditional livestock such as sheep.
9. People prefer an interactive way of getting information about avian flu.
Rural institutional development