Influenza A(H1N1) and Pandemic Preparedness Under the Rule of International Law

Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 301, p. 2376, 2009

Georgetown University O'Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law Scholarship Paper No. 28

5 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2009

See all articles by Lawrence O. Gostin

Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

Abstract

A novel strain of Influenza A (H1N1) spread rapidly through Mexico in April 2009 and now spans the globe. By the time WHO was notified and responded, geographical containment was not feasible, leading the agency to call for mitigation. The international outbreak of SARS in 2003 and the more recent Influenza A (H5N1) among birds with limited transmission to humans helped prepare the world for the current pandemic threat. SARS galvanized the WHO to revise the antiquated International Health Regulations (IHR) in 2005, which took effect June 15, 2007. Governments instituted preparedness plans in response to avian influenza. Despite increased preparedness, the WHO and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lack key powers and resources. Reminiscent of past responses, many governments are acting out of fear or economic and political self-interest rather than scientific reason. Above all, there are serious questions of global justice, as Mexicans are subject to stigma and discrimination.

This article by Lawrence O. Gostin, O’Neill Professor of Global Health Law at Georgetown University, analyses WHO powers and resources including the pandemic alert system and the IHR, as well as the powers and resources of the CDC. He finds that although the response to H1N1 has been strong, the WHO and CDC need more authority and resources to deal with pandemic threats under the rule of international law.

Keywords: international law, health law, swine flu, global health

Suggested Citation

Gostin, Lawrence O., Influenza A(H1N1) and Pandemic Preparedness Under the Rule of International Law. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 301, p. 2376, 2009; Georgetown University O'Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law Scholarship Paper No. 28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1430929

Lawrence O. Gostin (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9038 (Phone)
202-662-9055 (Fax)

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