The current influenza A(H1N1) outbreak is yet another reminder of just how much countries are interconnected, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized today, urging global solidarity to tackle the virus.
“A threat to one country is a threat to all, requiring a collective global response,” Mr. Ban told reporters in New York during his monthly press conference.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has kept its pandemic alert at Phase 5 – on a six-level warning scale – meaning that sustained human to human transmission of the flu had been confirmed, with widespread community outbreaks in at least two countries in one WHO region.
As of 06:00 GMT today, 21 countries have officially reported 1,124 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection, with Mexico reporting 590 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 25 deaths.
The Secretary-General noted that the UN has no plans to raise the alert level to Phase 6 at present, but stressed the need for vigilance and preparedness as there is still much that is unknown about the virus.
“We must therefore be prepared,” he stated. “Whatever trajectory the current outbreak may take, and so far we have been fortunate that its consequences have been relatively mild, we have learned valuable lessons.
“Our watchword in potential health crises, now and in the future, must be solidarity — a global solidarity,” he stressed.
In this spirit, Mr. Ban said he will in the coming weeks be asking governments to reach agreement on sharing of samples of viral and other materials, as well as data on outbreaks, as well as agree to establish coordinated long-term financing mechanisms for supporting poorer countries so that they are able to build their defenses against global health threats.
In addition, States will be asked to ensure that WHO “has all the resources it needs, when it needs them,” and to reverse restrictions on trade and travel unless there is clear scientific evidence that it is necessary.
Mr. Ban, who will travel to Geneva later this month for the World Health Assembly, will also meet with donors, technical partners and the private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, to explore how all can contribute.