World Must Invest Equally In Bird Flu Prevention And Response

The “reports during the past two weeks of two recent infections and another death” from H5N1 (avian) influenza “raised little concern except among public health officials,” Robert Gatter, co-director of the Center for Health Law Studies and professor of law at Saint Louis University, writes in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece, adding that “[t]he fact that bird flu in developing nations receives little public attention reveals that the world has become complacent about this threat.”

“Even more telling is how the focus of international giving has shifted from prevention to response strategies. … [but] the world cannot afford to be complacent about prevention,” he writes. “Each infection is a warning that the species barrier will not prevent human infections,” Gatter notes, concluding, “On the theory that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, all nations must recommit to the strategies that will prevent infections in the first place. At the very least, we must invest just as heavily in prevention strategies as we do in response planning” (8/16).