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International News

WHO's Insistence on Sticking to Pandemic Plan Caused Trouble

January 22, 2010

"[D]espite the appeal of a conspiracy theory," behind the WHO's handling of the H1N1 pandemic, "we believe the fundamental error [by the agency] was a rigid adherence to pre-existing pandemic plans," write Richard Schabas, Ontario's former chief medical officer of health, and Neil Rau, an infectious diseases specialist, in a Globe and Mail opinion piece. The authors examine how the WHO's decision to declare H1N1 a "pandemic," followed by the call for mass immunization led to the agency to "overshoot" the pandemic, while also acknowledging the benefits of the WHO's initial response to H1N1. "It was once said that no plan survives the first five minutes of any battle. What this means, of course, is that any plan can be quickly superseded by events," the authors write. "The good public health leader, like the good general, needs to put more value on utilizing new information and less on simply following orders. This is the real lesson of H1N1" (1/21).

Back to other news for January 2010

This information was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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