Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Poorer countries health services could be overwhelmed by pandemic influenza

Many experts have been discussing the impact of a "moderate" pandemic on already fragile health services and poorer countries.

"World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan warned Monday that the current swine flu pandemic could cripple fragile health services in poor countries.

"Developing countries have the greatest vulnerability and the least resilience. They will be hit the hardest and take the longest to recover," she told a UN forum on global health. . .

The pressures of a pandemic, on top of the rise in chronic diseases, could alone cripple fragile health services" in the developing world, Chan said.

While noting that the world's preparedness for the pandemic was unprecedented, she stressed that "the level of preparedness, and the capacity to cope, are strongly biased toward wealthy countries."

"In terms of measures to mitigate the health impact, many poor countries are virtually empty-handed," the WHO director general said. "Even the use of non-pharmaceutical measures has limited relevance to poor countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa."


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