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Did SARS make China a more global player?

This release is available in Chinese.

This week in PLoS Medicine we continue our series on Global Health Diplomacy with a case study examining whether the SARS epidemic was a "watershed" for China's engagement in global health diplomacy. The case study, by Lai-Ha Chan from the University of Technology Sydney and colleagues from Peking University, is the third in six articles in the series.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was the first global epidemic of the 21st Century, causing mass panic but also generating a discourse on health insecurity around the world. Dr. Chan and colleagues argue that the SARS epidemic exposed a fundamental shortcoming of China's public health surveillance system and forced China to realize that public health is not merely a domestic issue that can be isolated from foreign policy concerns. The authors caution, however, that China's reframing of health as a global public good has been tempered by its sensitivity to foreign interference to its internal affairs, a standpoint that will no doubt be tested further in a globalizing world where infectious diseases and public health concerns cross borders.

The PLoS Medicine Global Health Diplomacy series began with the publication on 20 April 2010 of an introductory article by Harley Feldbaum and Joshua Michaud, and a case study of Brazil's growing leadership in international relations by Kelley Lee and colleagues. The series continues next week with a case study examining the controversies surrounding equitable access to vaccines for avian influenza A (H5N1) and pandemic influenza A (H1N1). The PLoS Medicine series concludes on 11 May 2010 with commentary from high-level diplomats providing critical insights into the challenges of engaging in global health diplomacy.

The guest editor of the Global Health Diplomacy Series is Kelley Lee.


Contact: Andrew Hyde
Public Library of Science

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