WHO makes the standard noises, but is anyone listening?
WHO warns of global epidemic risk
Infectious diseases are spreading faster than ever before, the World Health Organization annual report says. With about 2.1 billion airline passengers flying each year, there is a high risk of another major epidemic such as Aids, Sars or Ebola fever.
The WHO urges increased efforts to combat disease outbreaks, and sharing of virus data to help develop vaccines.
Without this, it says, there could be devastating impacts on the global economy and international security.
In the report, A Safer Future, the WHO says new diseases are emerging at the “historically unprecedented” rate of one per year.
Seemed like the standard fair, warning about emerging infectious diseases, until one line caught my eye.
The WHO report also urges governments to be open about disease outbreaks, saying nearly half of all outbreak alerts it receives come from the media.
Modern travel does have a silver lining though, since a disease outbreak is unlikely to stay in any given country with a tightly controlled press for very long, even when that country is as big as China. So travelers bringing SARS out of China accidently also imported some of the benefits of a free press into China.
This ties in with the previous post, because this is just one of those unexpected benefits of having a free press, getting a disease monitoring system to boot, for free. So don’t throw away that free press, just yet anyway.