Another report, another story: the world is not ready for a pandemic. Before you click away (you’ve heard it before) I’ll be saying something more about it than just reiterating the dire prognosis if we don’t shape up. But first the message, from the UN and the World Bank:
The world remains unprepared to cope with a pandemic in humans arising from bird flu, a UN and World Bank report released Thursday found.
“Although a massive global effort to control highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (or severe bird flu) has led to improved responses to outbreaks in poultry in many countries during the last year, there is a continuing risk of a virus mutation which results in severe and easily transmitted influenza in humans, potentially precipitating an influenza pandemic,” said the report by the UN System Influenza Coordinator, Briton David Nabarro, and the World Bank.
“The pandemic threat has led most governments to improve services to detect, contain and lessen the impact of dangerous pathogens,” it said.
“However, many national pandemic plans are not sufficiently operational and the coordination of pandemic planning between countries needs greater attention,” it added, ahead of an international conference set to discuss related issues December 4-6 in New Delhi. (Agence France Presse via Raw Story)
So what could anyone possibly say about this that’s at all new — or even just not boring? Probably not much, but I’ll take a stab at it. We first started blogging about this three years ago. At the time we were almost alone in the blogosphere (two simultaneous exceptions were DemFromCT at DailyKos and The Next Hurrah and Melanie at Just a Bump in the Beltway; our common interest led in June 2005 to the founding of the Flu Wiki). Now we are just a small corner of FluBlogia, often overshadowed by fine blogs like Avian Flu Diary, Crof’s H5N1, Sophia Zoe’s blog, Coming Influenza Pandemic and many more (apologies to those left out; I am tired and it’s been a long day). Of course there’s Flu Wiki Forum, still the go-to source (IMO). Maybe the World Bank doesn’t count these developments, but I do.
Yes, there remains a good deal to do. Most countries, cities, towns, states, agencies . . . whatever, don’t have an operational plan in place. But many of them have been planning, and it’s the planning not the plan that makes the difference. The Plan will go down the toilet on Day 3 of a pandemic, but the thinking ahead will last. Forethought is the major weapon and it is being wielded by many.
Most of us are tired of hearing the world’s not ready. That’s not a reason to stop reminding us. The fact that the progress from three years ago is substantial is also not a reason to rest. There is still a lot to do. But every once in a while it pays to remind ourselves that it isn’t hopeless, that progress has been made, that we can make still more progress. No one knows when or if the other shoe will drop but until it does, slow, steady, systematic efforts will get us a bit farther down a long road.
Sometimes we need a light pat on the back. We’ve had plenty of kicks in the butt.