Wednesday, 10 March 2004  
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Media publicity needed that Lanka free of Bird Flu: President

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has requested all media institutions to help protect the country's poultry industry and the livelihood of people engaged in it by giving wide publicity to the fact that Sri Lanka is free of the 'Avian Influenza' (Bird Flu) epidemic which affected many East Asian Countries recently.

This follows a discussion the President had with a delegation of the All Ceylon Poultry Breeders' Association which met her at the President's House recently.

A press release issued by the Director General of the Presidential Media Unit said that at this meeting the Association requested the President to intervene and get the media to allay the fears of Sri Lankan consumers regarding the Bird Flu epidemic.

The President's request was formally communicated to all media institutions by the secretary to the President in a letter dated March 5.

The release said it was pointed out at this meeting that the Department of Animal Production and Health has already certified that 'Bird Flu' has not affected Sri Lanka and Consumers should not entertain any fears about locally produced chicken meat and eggs.

Furthermore, all imports of meat and meat products have been banned with effect from January 8 this year to prevent any spread of 'Avian Influenza' (Bird Flu) to Sri Lanka. Bird Flu which affected several East Asian Countries was not reported from any South Asian Countries.

Countries affected by the disease too took quick remedial measures which prevented the spread of the disease.

The wide media publicity given to 'Bird Flu' caused undue fears in the minds of consumers who reduced their consumption of chicken meat and eggs thereby plunging the small and medium scale industry to a crisis.

This undue fear is unfavourable to consumers themselves because chicken meat and eggs are the cheapest means of animal protein available.

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