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UN urges cooperation on diseases


The United Nations is urging the international community to work together because new diseases are emerging at an “unprecedented” rate.

The World Health Organization said securing public health is a “a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility”.

It comes as experts are warning that a new flu pandemic is “not a question of if but of when”.

Scientists believe that the current bird flu virus, which has so far infected 321 people and killed 194, could mutate into a form which easily passes between humans.

The so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20 is estimated to have killed between 20million and 40 million people in a similar fashion.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan said: “Given today’s universal vulnerability to these threats, better security calls for global solidarity.

“International public health security is both a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility. The new watchwords are diplomacy, cooperation, transparency and preparedness.”

In its annual World Health Report, the WHO also sets out its strategic action plan to respond to a pandemic.

It also highlights the need for vigilance in managing the risks and consequences of the international spread of polio and a new strain of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

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