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WHO’s Chan Says Swine Flu Will ‘Test’ World On ‘Fairness’

Addressing a meeting of South East Asian health ministers Tuesday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the H1N1 (swine) flu pandemic will “test the world on the issue of fairness” and “reveal in a measurable and tragic way the consequences of decades of failure to invest adequately in basic health systems and infrastructure,” Agence France-Presse reports. Chan added, “It will show what the failure to care about equity in international policy really means in life and death terms.”

Though “Southeast Asia, home to many of the world’s poorest people, has so far been hit relatively lightly… Chan warned against complacency in the WHO’s 11 Southeast Asian member countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and East Timor,” the news service writes (9/8).

Egypt Orders 5M Doses Of H1N1 Vaccine

The Zawya Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports: “Egypt has ordered five million doses of H1N1 swine flu vaccine, and expects to receive the first shipment in October, the state-run Saudi News Agency reports Wednesday, citing the country’s health minister” (9/8).

Thirty-One Have Died Of H1N1 In South Africa

South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases on Tuesday released the country’s most updated H1N1-related death counts; laboratory tests confirmed the deaths of 31 people were caused by H1N1, News24.com reports (9/8).

CDC Issues Updated Antiviral Guidelines

The CDC on Tuesday issued updated antiviral guidelines, emphasizing the need for patients who are hospitalized with the flu or at high risk from complications from the virus to take the drugs, HealthDay/Yahoo! News writes. Patients who don’t fit into this high-risk category are advised not to use antivirals, Anne Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a press conference. “Because most people who get the flu – whether H1N1 swine flu or seasonal flu – will not be tested to see what type of flu they have, the new guidelines are based on symptoms, not a particular flu strain, Schuchat said,” according to the news service (Reinberg, 9/8).

To ensure prompt treatment, the CDC advised “health care workers, pregnant women, children under six months of age and those with chronic medical conditions should consult with their doctors about having a ‘prescription-in-waiting’ for antiviral medication,” CQ HealthBeat reports (Adofo, 9/8).

“The latest guidance suggests officials are keen to make sure people who need it get very quick treatment, while making sure people who do not need the drugs do not abuse them,” Reuters writes, adding, “[S]upplies are not infinite and health officials worry that the more people take them, the quicker the virus will evolve resistance, rendering them useless” (Fox, 9/8).

Health Care Workers Under Pressure To Receive Flu Shots

The Associated Press/Seattle Times examines the growing pressure on health care workers to receive flu shots, in light of a state law in New York that requires them to get vaccinated against swine and seasonal flus. According to a CDC study last year, “[r]oughly half of health workers skip the immunizations,” which “rais[es] two concerns: If doctors and nurses get sick, who will treat what could be millions of Americans reeling from seasonal or swine flu? And could infected health workers make things worse by spreading flu to patients?” (Tanner/Bauman, 9/8).