Annual UN health forum adopts resolution calling for support to control SARS

Annual UN health forum adopts resolution calling for support to control SARS

The 192 Member States of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) unanimously approved a resolution today calling for the full support of all countries to control the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

In the resolution and in the debate that preceded its adoption, SARS was clearly recognized by the World Health Assembly (WHA) - the WHO's annual meeting - as a serious threat to the stability and growth of economies, the livelihood of populations, and the functioning of health systems as well as a cause of great human suffering.

The resolution, which, according to WHO, recognizes SARS as the first severe infectious disease to emerge in the twenty-first century, also urges countries to promptly and transparently provide requested information to the UN agency. Countries are further asked to request its support when control measures are ineffective in halting the spread of disease.

The Assembly also considered a report on the emergence and spread of SARS and on the international response to date. Lessons learned in the ongoing response to SARS were considered relevant to improved preparedness for the next new disease, the next influenza pandemic, and a possible act of bio-terrorism, WHO said.

The resolution acknowledges the need for WHO to continue updating the list of areas with recent local transmission of SARS, but to do so in a way that minimizes socio-economic consequences.

As of today, a cumulative total of 8,221 probable SARS cases with 735 deaths have been reported from 28 countries.