Readying Ourselves for an Avian Flu Pandemic
School of Information Technology, Murdoch University
Education and Arts
Communications and Multimedia
The Internet is being prepared, on a daily basis across a range of countries and cultures, to deliver globally-relevant information in preparation for (and during) an anticipated Avian flu pandemic. What is unclear, until the pages are trawled for details, is the chilling nature of the scenarios emerging and the lack of public debate of the issues arising. Although Internet-delivered information will be required to play a critical role in the event of a pandemic, there has been Iittle debate about the need to support public health infrastructure in poorer countries in anticipation of the pandemic. The pragmatics of development mean those who most need the information will be the people least able to access it, and those who are least able to bear the cost of a pandemic are the countries where it is most likely to start. This paper addresses the global planning for the eventuality of Avian flu - mainly as it is being coordinated by the World Health Organization and communicated publicly via the Internet. It also draws upon the lessons learned in Canada from the SARS outbreak. Current plans for coping with a future Avian flu pandemic have significant implications for international justice, ethics and development.