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    Bird Flu Risks and Lebanon

    bird-flu.jpgWe have all heard a lot about bird flu, it was and still is a major concern of the sanitary authorities around the world. The avian influenza (bird flu) is a disease of birds, many human cases have been reported, and it seems a possibility that the virus mutates and that we would have an influenza pandemic starting this winter. Estimations of death cases vary from 7 to 300 millions around the world, they depend on many factors including of course the type of reaction of the world health authorities and the local ones.

    I tried to search on the (very poor) site of the ministry of health in lebanon for a plan of action regarding the growing risk of a worldwide epidemic of bird flu, all i found was a couple of links from WHO website, one regarding the recommendations to travelers and another one for FAQ regarding the disease. I haven’t heard of any plan of action made by the authorities regarding this potential risk, which means that lebanon is not prepared for such a possibility.

    The government and especially the ministry of health (whose minister is resigned may we remind) should start working on a plan of action, that should include Syria because of the wide borders we have with it. Organizing exchange of expertise with european countries would also be helpful. Large stocks of masks should be made and distributed to hospitals and doctors who would give them to individuals. Stocks of vaccines and anti-virals should also be made. A campaign of public awareness needs to be organized as well as a collaboration between ministries of defense, interior and economy to control security related issues and prices in case of general panic related to the outbreak of the disease.

    This said, it is difficult to predict whether the pandemic would happen this winter (which means very soon) but it is a possibility to which most civilized countries are already prepared. It is also unlikely that things will reach the extreme but it is a possibility that should be taken into consideration. A clear plan and a preparation is the key for limiting the number of death, and preventing chaos and big economic losses in case of crisis.

    Hadi K.

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