We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

Several factors suggest that H5N1, the virus responsible for the bird flu outbreaks in South-East Asia since 2000, could cause the next viral pandemic, killing millions of people around the world.

Scientists, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organization agree on this. But researchers in South-East Asia say the international community underestimates the scale of the threat and is not reacting accordingly.

According to this report in Nature by Peter Aldhous, local and foreign researchers in Vietnam are complaining that, after the initial flurry of activity caused by last year's epidemic, the international research and health community has deserted the region, leaving countries like Vietnam to scrounge for funding.

The research needed to avoid a pandemic is considerable. Human blood samples must be screened for signs of immunity against the disease; the same must be done for poultry and migratory birds; and H5N1 itself needs to be monitored, to see how it is changing and what this means for human and animal health.

But the initial crisis responses to bird flu outbreaks do not support this type of research, and applying for money through normal funding channels takes a long time. Some productive collaborations between East and West have emerged but many more, and more funding, are needed if the world is to prepare for the next pandemic.

Link to full article in Nature

Reference: Nature: 433, 105 (2005)

Related topics