Intended for healthcare professionals


Governments must be pulled up for failings over flu

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 15 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2019
  1. Andrew Jack, pharmaceuticals correspondent
  1. 1Financial Times, London
  1. Andrew.Jack{at}

    The escalating A/H1N1 flu outbreak has led to cracks in the system of international coordination based on evidence. Governments and the World Health Organisation alike should be held accountable

    Flu provided some relief for those attending this week’s gruelling World Health Assembly, by adding an element of urgency to the often abstract agenda and almost halving the length of the annual marathon gathering from eight days to five. But if health ministers and their aides pleaded the need to return home speedily to handle their domestic response to the A/H1N1 virus, there are some issues they left unresolved before hurrying away.

    The World Health Organization under director general Margaret Chan deserves some credit for strengthening and coordinating the response—and even ending the ritual yearly spat with China, which will allow Taiwan’s attendance at the assembly for the first time.

    Some countries have also performed well, led by Mexico. It moved quickly from detection to reaction, transparency, and cross-border collaboration. Regrettably, not all of its fellow governments merit such praise. The escalating outbreak has led to cracks in the system …

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