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Swine Flu: A Spread Southward Could Be Disaster for Weak Public Health Systems
Date:4/29/2009

-- World Vision Preparing for Possible Global Spread, Educating Staff Worldwide

-- Health threat underscores need for community health strengthening in poor countries

WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A potential spread of swine flu to developing countries without adequate means to track the outbreak or to treat those infected could prove disastrous for communities in Central America and elsewhere, humanitarian agency World Vision warned today.

A lack of access to basic, primary health care means communities in poor countries are more likely to suffer from such new viruses than those in developed nations, World Vision's emergency health specialists warned as the World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to a phase 4 level.

Currently, confirmed and suspected swine flu cases are in countries with relatively mature public health systems. World Vision is concerned that the virus might spread to developing countries without adequate health provision, such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

"The spread of the virus beyond Mexico is demonstrating that community-level health threats are actually global matters that affect us all," said Dr. Mesfin Teklu, emergency health director for World Vision International. "Still, it is where health systems and structures are inadequate that the disease is most likely to spread unchecked and take its greatest toll on lives."

"This swine flu, like avian influenza outbreaks before it, highlights a critical weakness in the way the world addresses health threats," said Teklu, who is currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, participating in a regional pandemic preparedness meeting with other global public health leaders. "It underscores the need to invest in basic health care in developing nations, a crucial step to improving overall health while building capacity for a rapid and robust response when cris
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SOURCE World Vision U.S.
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