Countries 'ill-prepared' for bird flu vaccination

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and I don't blame them. Looking at infection and mortality rate mentioned in this very article, I see that the bird-flu does not pose the same risk, as for example HIV/AIDS or Cancer.

According to the WHO a bird flu pandemic is a serious threat; 256 cases of confirmed avian flu have been reported to the WHO, which have resulted in 151 deaths.

Shall we compare these numbers to daily mortality rate due to AIDS in South Africa, for example?

Read more on "ill-prepared" countries..

Nearly a third of the world's nations are ill-prepared for treating people in the event of a bird flu pandemic, a new study warns.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, found that 30 per cent of countries have yet to prioritise who should receive vaccines and antivirals.

This is in spite of advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which recommends that all nations prepare a priority list as flu vaccine and antiviral drugs are in scarce supply.

All regions of the world were included in the study, with 45 national plans from both developed and developing nations analysed.

Although 62 per cent of nations have prioritised which groups would receive the flu vaccine, just 49 per cent have prioritised antivirals.

The study's author described this as "an unexpected finding", arguing that "antivirals may be the first – and, perhaps, the only – pharmaceutical intervention available to many countries in a pandemic".

"Because it is estimated to take six months to mass produce strain-specific vaccine, and global antiviral production and stockpiling is increasing, priority setting for antivirals may prove to be more critical to pandemic preparedness," the researchers write in the PLoS Medicine journal.

The study also found that although the WHO has encouraged countries to estimate the impact of a pandemic, only 40 per cent – nearly all of which were developed nations – had calculated probable cases and/or deaths.

This led the researchers to conclude that the planning community must support nations in creating allocation schemes that are based on local conditions, especially in the case of the developing world.

According to the WHO a bird flu pandemic is a serious threat; 256 cases of confirmed avian flu have been reported to the WHO, which have resulted in 151 deaths.

Yesterday the ministry of health in Indonesia confirmed that three more people had died in the country of the H5N1 bird flu virus.

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