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Britain's Bird Flu Contingency Plans Faces Criticism

A public health official blamed Britain's bird flu contingency plans as being too narrowly focused, ignoring the lessons learnt from the previous experiences// with dealing similar pandemics. However, the plans are too optimistic according to Dr. Hilary Pickles belonging to the Hillingdon Primary Care Trust in Middlesex, southern England.

'Normally you plan for the worst. They are asking us to plan for the middle road. History and past events tell us there is a much broader impact. The whole system of impact is what needs to be considered,' she said in an interview. She further stated that the plan should concentrate on improving the nations response rather than a narrow focus on the health response.

The main focus of the contingency plan is the increasing number of people becoming ill as a result of bird flu infection. Very little importance is being given to the functional disruption of the society as a consequence of influenza pandemic.

Health officials feel that the contingency plan should give adequate importance to the disruption caused to the society, the effect of the bird flu pandemic on trade and the impact of absenteeism owing to illness in business sector undertakings. A detailed report regarding the same has been published in the British Medical Journal.

To this David Salisbury, director of Immunisation at Britain's Department of Health responded by saying that the UK Government was doing all that it can. He further pointed out to the collaborative work involving the European Union, World health Organization and other similar international health partners.

'Action is taken as necessary to improve our preparedness so that any effects on the ability of the National Health Service to cope are minimized and business and essential services can be sustained,' he said in a response statement.

Stockpiling of bird flu drugs could to large extent help in effective management of potential bird flu pandemic. 'It may work at an individual level. It might even work at a population level in stopping infections but the net effect could be counterproductive as a whole because it could be divisive. Not everybody is going to get them,' Dr. Hilary concluded.

Although no case of human-human bird flu transmission has been reported so far. However scientists fear that mutation of the H5N1 virus could trigger a pandemic, killing million worldwide.


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