Friday, July 17, 2009

WHO to stop tracking H1N1 cases

Wow, it's been awhile! I've been out of the country (Africa!) and we've been busy here at the office. I will post a public-health-related posting about Africa, which was fascinating, but for now, here is a little H1N1 update.

Apparently, WHO says it will stop tracking H1N1 cases. Very interesting. It said in a "briefing note" posted on the website late Thursday that tracking would cease. One of the reasons indicated is that poorer countries are having a hard time keeping up with the load on their epidemiologists and laboratories. The website says that "there is still an ongoing need in all countries to closely monitor unusual events, such as clusters of cases of severe or fatal pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus infection, clusters of respiratory illness requiring hospitalization, or unexplained or unusual clinical patterns associated with serious or fatal cases." New countries with H1N1, however, will still be reported on the WHO website.

It is unclear what the agency will track exactly now. Dr. Michael Osterholm, quoted in the NY Times article, says that "bad measures can be worse than no measure at all" and that he hopes this "will force the public health community to come up with better [measures]."

Very interesting. We'll have to keep an eye on this.

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