World trade, the poor and swine flu

Bebe Loff

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2010.002


In the last edition of this Journal Anant Phadke provided readers with the dreadful story of the death of Rida Sheikh from the H1N1 flu virus . Moving from this local and most concerning incident to the international arena reveals further matters worthy of consideration in the context of pandemic influenza. In 2005 the World Health Assembly adopted revised International Health Regulations. The purpose of these Regulations is to prevent the international spread of disease while avoiding unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade . According to the Regulations countries are obliged to develop certain minimum public health capacities for the detection, assessment and reporting of infectious disease outbreaks. Member States are urged to support developing countries in this regard. While it is unlikely that Member States will privilege the interests of developing countries, the question of what constitutes “unnecessary interference” with international traffic and trade and how this issue ought to be considered in the context of a threat to “global” public health seems not to have been the subject of conspicuous debate.

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