WHO Director-General Warns Flu Pandemic Will Certainly Happen

Posted on April 7, 2007

Margarent Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that there will be a flu pandemic. The problem is they don't when it will happen or how bad it will be.

"The next pandemic will certainly happen," Margaret Chan told reporters following a forum on the need to improve international health security, noting it was impossible to guess when it might happen or how severe it might be.

Since late 2003, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has prompted the slaughter of millions of birds across Asia and caused the deaths of more than 170 people worldwide, about one-third of them in Indonesia, according to WHO.

The virus has been identified in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, in what Chan called an unprecedented spread.

"We cannot let our guard down," Chan said. "My advice for all member states is to maintain vigilance, to prepare for the pandemic. One thing we know for certain is that any country that is prepared will see less damage."

As disasters go it sounds like forecasting a hurricane or an earthquake. Scientists have a good idea which areas or cities are likely to be hit but they can't predict the date and they can't predict the severity.

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