Several international conferences planned for China were postponed or changed venues
Yu p. 91)
SARS also had some positive effects in terms of media coverage. Studies claim that the outbreak in 2003 not only emphasized the importance of good media coverage in alerting the international community to epidemics but also "... raised standards of government preparedness and border control." (ibid) The importance of rapid communication and the role of the media became evident during the epidemic. This was also to show up the lack of media awareness in China. In this regard the epidemic highlighted the importance and value of the independent media in China, which was able to act in a way that alerted the international community to the epidemic.
In recent years, so-called "fringe media" publications have emerged in China. These fringe media are less controlled by government; these independent publications enjoy more autonomy than mainstream media and rely on the market for financial support. Therefore, their viewpoints are less influenced by the government propaganda machine. During the SARS crisis, some of these publications conducted in-depth investigations of the disease and its impact and delivered exclusive reports with unique angles. This gave them a golden opportunity to further establish their status as watchdogs.
The fact that China did not allow immediate free press access to the news of the disease resulted in accusations that the government had not acted responsibly or quickly enough in dealing with the outbreak. "...initial attempts to cover up the disease resulted in it spreading to Beijing and other provinces. Over time, a regional epidemic evolved into a national disaster."(ibid)
The SARS epidemic also revealed the way in which socio-economic conditions play an important role in the cause and perpetuation of epidemic diseases. From the socio-geographic perspective on the origins of the disease in Asia, it became evident that low or poor socio-economic conditions provide a breeding ground for diseases like SARS.
Finally, possibly the one result of the epidemic that is the cause for most concern is that is has led to a sense of uncertainly about the future. This aspect is emphasized by the fact that there is as yet no known and reliable cure for the SARS virus. Another concern that underlies much as the anxiety about the future of disease like SARS is the possibility of genetic recombination.
Ever since the SARS virus suddenly appeared in humans, scientists have been speculating about its origins and relationships to other, similar viruses. Using evolutionary analysis of protein sequences, the U-M researchers concluded that the SARS virus represents a different and previously little known lineage that has undergone some recombination, a process that can shuffle genes or gene regions among different viral lineages. This shuffling process provides genetic variation, which can help viruses survive and adapt in new hosts.
SARS Virus Can Change Quickly And Unpredictably)
Studies show that "The... recombination in the SARS-CoV lineages does indicate its potential for rapid, unpredictable evolutionary change, and this is a potentially important challenge for public health management and for drug and vaccine development." (ibid)
This aspect therefore increases the sense of anxiety about the disease and also adds to the need for comprehensive and more fully informed ways of dealing with a recurrence.
Prevention and solutions
Various measures were taken by the CDC at the time of the epidemic. These included closer cooperation with various authorities, a move which has set the tome for present day interventions and sustainable solutions.
CDC continues to work with other federal agencies, state and local health departments, and healthcare organizations to plan for rapid recognition and response if person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV recurs. CDC has developed recommendations and guidelines to help public health and healthcare officials plan for and respond quickly to the reappearance of SARS in a healthcare facility or community.
Basic Information About SARS)
As mentioned, a central aspect that concerns this study is that the exact cause and origins of SARS is not known. This aspect raises a question mark when it comes to the issue of stainable solutions to the possibility of the reappearance of the virus. Some experts state that"... It is conceivable that an exact answer may never be determined." (China's Latest SARS Outbreak Contained, But Biosafety Concerns Remain)
This is a vital aspect in that control, prevention or management of future possible outbreaks is determined by the extent of knowledge that we have about the virus. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has warned that "The threat of future outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) remains real as long as its source is unknown" and has warned that more research on the disease is needed. (The cause of SARS) This presents various problematic concerns that have to be dealt to facilitate both prevention and sustainable solutions to future outbreaks.
The sustainability of solutions also has to take into account the rising incidences of viruses and infectious that has emerged since SARS - as these are possibly part of a pattern in the contemporary world. In other words, the issue of sustainability has to be cognizant of the total holistic picture and the context of SARS in the pattern of diseases and viral infections in the world to be effective.
The number infectious diseases continue to climb across the world. This has led to the realization that, our global community must do more to deal with the human, social and economic costs of infectious disease. Official development assistance, co-operative research and development programs and strategies to overcome market failures all can play a role in turning back the tide of infectious disease. But what we need most is a real international partnership, with OECD countries shouldering much of the responsibility for delivery of the most vital of the pillars of sustainability of good health for all.
Biotechnology and Sustainability)
The above sentiment is an indication of the most logical and practical way of dealing with the possible reemergence of SARS and the present viral infections, such as Avian flu.
Unfortunately the perception that new and dangerous forms are diseases are appearing in the modern world more often is largely true. This fact is partly the result of modern lifestyles and particularly the ubiquitous nature of modern travel, especially air travel, which had an enormous effect on the spread of diseases like SARS.
The above points all go to suggest that in terms of sustainable solutions the threat of disease like SARS must not be seen or dealt with in isolation. The following quotation emphasizes this point.
The emergence of SARS is by no means an isolated event. Since the 1970s, at least 30 new infectious diseases have emerged for which no effective treatment exists. One of the most destructive diseases the modern world currently faces was virtually unknown 20 years ago, but today the HIV / AIDS epidemic has infected more than 40 million people worldwide, killed 3 million in 2001 and continues to spread around the globe.
BIOTECHNOLOGY AND SUSTAINABILITY)
Diseases like SARS have a negative effect on the world economy, with subsequent effects on the social and health infrastructure of many countries, impeding their ability to deal with the disease. There is a growing sense in the word community that "... infectious diseases will need to be turned back...If the global community is serious about achieving sustainable development and growth in the world economy." (ibid)
To this end a number of public and private international partnerships have been established; such as the Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development and the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization. (ibid) Another example of the type of international cooperation that is needed is the establishment of the European Clinical Trials Platform, created by the European Commission in 2002. This platform supports common programs of research and clinical trials for various diseases.
Another area that has become particularly important in the area of sustainable prevention is the use of biotechnology, genomics and informatics. These tools and technologies offer "...a growing range of approaches to help prevent, monitor, detect, diagnose and treat infectious diseases. Appropriate policies are however necessary to ensure that the right tools reach the right people at the right time. (ibid)
The above emphasizes central point that is reiterated by many experts on SARS and other infectious diseases; namely that "...the battle... against infectious diseases...today is a challenge and a burden to be shared with all the global scientific community." (ibid) Scientific commentators state that the complexity of diseases like SARS, coupled with the easy spread of virus via air travel, has necessitated that an inclusive and wide- ranging strategy of sustainable prevention must be initiated in all countries.
A related aspect is the issue of surveillance in the fight against SARS and other viral epidemics. This was referred to in the present study in terms of the role that the media played in warning the international community about SARS, thereby being instrumental in retarding its spread. There is little doubt that disease outbreaks…