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International News

Groups: Swine Flu Focus Bad for Other Diseases

May 21, 2009

H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, has moved to the top of the agenda for the World Health Organization (WHO)'s annual meeting at the expense of other diseases that deserve greater global attention, health experts said Wednesday.

Hepatitis campaigners are disappointed that a first-ever WHO resolution addressing the disease was dropped from the meeting agenda, as were discussions on combating Chagas disease, cancer, and diabetes. WHO spokesperson Thomas Abraham said these issues were tabled when the agency's 193 member-nations decided to shorten the World Health Assembly meeting because ministers needed to prepare for a possible flu pandemic back home.

To date, the H1N1 strain has infected more than 10,000 people -- primarily in Mexico and the United States -- and appears slightly more dangerous than seasonal flu. Most people infected do not require treatment, but leading health authorities are concerned the virus could mutate into a more lethal form.

"Malaria, drug-resistant tuberculosis -- they are killing people every day," said Dr. Sam Zaramba, Uganda's chief medical officer. "If all the emphasis that has been put on swine flu had been put on malaria and TB, we would have made a much bigger impact on health." Zaramba noted that he and other African officials had to fight hard to get TB back on the agenda at the five-day meeting.

The World Hepatitis Alliance, composed of over 200 patient groups worldwide, said Brazil's shelved resolution on hepatitis cannot now be taken up until 2010 at the earliest. "Viral hepatitis has never been properly addressed at a global level and the consequences have been disastrous," said WHA's Charles Gore. Annually, 1 million die from hepatitis B and C, he noted.

Back to other news for May 2009

Adapted from:
Associated Press
05.20.2009; Bradley S. Klapper; Frank Jordans

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Whatever Happened to H1N1 (Swine Flu) and HIV? New Answers at CROI 2010
FAQs About H1N1 Flu From The Body's "Ask the Experts" Forums
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Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs
More Research on H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) and HIV/AIDS