Developing Countries Need $1B By End Of Year To Cope With H1N1, U.N. Says

Developing countries will need an estimated $1 billion by year’s end to ensure their access to antivirals and vaccines to protect against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday, AFP/ reports. “Funding had ‘not been flowing as expected,’ following appeals in recent weeks, [Ban] added,” according to the news service (7/6).

During an address to government officials from donor countries Monday, Ban said he was counting on their support, according to the AP/ “Public funding should come first before we ask for any private fundings,” he said. “Many of the developing countries have weak health systems,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said. “They actually go into this pandemic what I call empty-handed. They don’t have antivirals. They don’t have vaccines. They don’t have antibiotics.”

Additionally, health officials worry “that people in poorer countries and those fighting other health problems like malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition and pneumonia might be more susceptible to swine flu,” according to AP/ “Chan told the donors that she wants to mobilize a minimum stockpile of vaccines to 49 of the world’s least developed countries” but did not name what countries would receive vaccines, according to the AP/ (Engeler, 7/6).

In related news, Reuters examines the toll of the H1N1 virus in Argentina, where citizens “are questioning the government’s handling of an H1N1 flu outbreak that has killed 60 people” – the third highest death toll in the world after Mexico and the U.S. The article details how confusion over the number of H1N1 cases reported, and the fact Argentina’s death toll has “more than doubled” in “less than a week,” has led to public “accusations that officials acted too slowly” (Wroclavsky, 7/6).

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