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Medical ethics experts identify, address key issues in H1N1 pandemic
Date:9/23/2009

to reach out globally.

Among the authors' recommendations: Canada should share at least a 10% portion of its national stockpile of antiviral medications, H1N1 vaccine allocations, and outbreak management kits with poor countries, and encourage other wealthy countries to follow suit.

It should also seek global reassurances that vaccine priority will be given to health care workers, as well as the most vulnerable (children under five, pregnant women, people with weak immune systems and members of indigenous communities.

"Prioritizing the most vulnerable in other countries prior to the least vulnerable in this country would contribute immensely to allaying fears that the rich will live and the poor will die during a worsening global influenza pandemic."

As well, Canada's domestic vaccine producers should maintain full production capacity for as long as there is need in other countries and even after all Canadians have been offered vaccines. Consideration of the use of adjuvants in order to extend the overall vaccine supply should also be a priority, as should exploration of policy initiatives to create a global network of regionalized vaccine production sites insulated from market forces.

Risk communication

During the 2003 SARS crisis, poor communication between public health officials, health care workers and the public was cited as a major factor contributing to the confusion and even spread of the virus.

According to the JCB papers: "For people to accept public health measures that may limit their individual liberty and potentially cause them to be stigmatized, they must trust the information they receive as well as the authorities who provide the information."

Information must be available through a variety of sources for both professionals and the public, and recipients should know where information is coming from and from whom. Being transparent also means being open about what is
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Contact: terrycollins@rogers.com
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics
Source:Eurekalert

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