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U.S. unprepared to tackle bird flu

It is a sad state in the US state and local health departments, as they are not prepared to tackle the bird flu epidemic because they have not received financial support and guidance from the federal government.

// Only few places like Seattle and New York City are prepared but others are lagging by a complete year in the preparations to tackle an epidemic. Jeffrey Levi, a flu expert at the Trust for America's Health, a nonpartisan health policy group says that it is a very sad and depressing issue.

The Bush administration on Nov. 2 issued the national response plan which stated that the national government are responsible for stockpiling of vaccines and anti-viral drugs. The state and the local government were left to tend for themselves. President George W. Bush requested $7.1 billion to handle bird flu epidemic but the Congress provided only $3.3 billion. The money is manly for vaccine and drug research and $350 million is for local health departments. Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chief of communicable diseases for the Seattle and King County health department said that though this amount looks big it is not so after it has been divided among the 5,000 health departments. Each would receive only $70,000 each.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the nation's strategy was to buy time until millions of doses of vaccines and anti-viral drugs could be produced. She said this at the conference of avian flu experts in Washington. But it is high time that we step in to the battlefield and make the necessary preparation thereby many deaths can be avoided and society can be protected.

Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, the medical arm of the National Academy of Sciences, said that the nation is completely unprepared in case an epidemic.

This fear about the bird flu is basically because the disease has killed about 90 individuals worldwide and officials fear that it will mutate into a form that spreads easily among people.


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