Helen Branswell, Medical Reporter, THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA – For the director general of the World Health Organization, the best news of the decade is the fact that the first influenza pandemic of the 21st century is a moderate – some would even call it mild – one. Still, that lucky break, disease-wise, has created a communications challenge for those in public health in general and the WHO in particular, Dr. Margaret Chan acknowledged Monday in an interview with The Canadian Press. (snip)
“The reality check by the new H1N1 virus caused a disconnect or a mismatch between the expectations and the reality,” Chan said from Geneva, noting people’s views of the H1N1 pandemic depend on whether it touched their lives or not. “The reaction would span from complacency to some kind of suspicion,” she said. (snip)
Asked if she really does understand how people could conclude the agency she heads had a hand in starting a pandemic, Chan’s tone changed. “If indeed that conspiracy, if there is any evidence and basis to it, I want to see that (evidence), number 1,” she said.
If there is any solid proof, “I will personally kill the organization,” she said. (snip)
Still, there’s a hint of frustration as she describes the new reality facing officials trying to plan for and respond to a global reality like a pandemic – the unfettered, unchallenged reach of the Internet.
“We have never, in public health, had to experience this diversity of channels of communications,” Chan said. “And you, the media, representing the public, hold me accountable. You hold ministries of health accountable. … You follow up on what we say.”
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