Emerging Infectious Diseases: Asian SARS Outbreak Challenged International and National Responses, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 3MB]

"Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in southern China in November 2002 and spread rapidly along international air routes in early 2003. Asian countries had the most cases (7,782) and deaths (729). SARS challenged Asian health care systems, disrupted Asian economies, and tested the effectiveness of the International Health Regulations. GAO was asked to examine the roles of the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. government, and Asian governments (China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) in responding to SARS; the estimated economic impact of SARS in Asia; and efforts to update the International Health Regulations. GAO is recommending that the Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and State work with WHO and other member states to strengthen WHO's global infectious disease network. GAO is also recommending that the Secretary of HHS complete steps to ensure that the agency can obtain passenger contact information in a timely manner, including, if necessary, the promulgation of specific regulations; and that the Secretary of State work with other relevant agencies to develop procedures for arranging medical evacuations during an airborne infectious disease outbreak. HHS, State, and WHO generally concurred with the report's content and its recommendations."

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