WHO: new media part of mistakes in managing H1N1 epidemic

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WHO in Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The fading role of traditional media and the rise of new media were overlooked by the WHO (World Health Organization), a root cause of some of the management problems with the H1N1 epidemic, a senior WHO official says. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s special advisor on pandemic influenza, was addressing 29 experts who have gathered to review how the swine flu pandemic was managed, the first review of International Health Regulations.

Traditional media’s past role of disseminating information correctly has been weakened by the rise of rapid and often rumour-based new media, Fukuda implied.

A major source of confusion worldwide became the WHO’s alerts, which rapidly rose to level 6, but with widespread misunderstanding about the difference between the gravity of the disease and the speed with which it spread.

Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director, told the group at the start of the meeting Monday 12 April, that H1N1 has now been confirmed in 213 countries. But Fukuda told them later that many countries are now trying to cancel purchases of large quantities of drugs to fight the disease.

March 2010, latest WHO update, with Keiji Fukuda speaking (podcast)

Background, H1N1, GenevaLunch

Links to other sites: Le Monde, The Independent, WHO