(NaturalNews) A report from the British House of Lords has blasted the World Health Organization as "dysfunctional" and warned that the world is not prepared for the inevitability of a new disease pandemic.
"While there has not been a pandemic since 1968, another one is inevitable," the report said.
The report cautioned that early disease warning systems in the Third World are insufficient to identify and contain major disease outbreaks, such as the one that would occur if the H5N1 strain of avian flu mutated and spread rapidly between humans.
"We have been warned that an influenza pandemic is overdue and that when - rather than if - it comes the effects could be devastating, particularly if the strain of the virus should be of the H5N1 variety that has been seen in south-east Asia in recent years," the report read. "While much progress has been made in the past 10 years in improving global surveillance and response systems, much remains to be done if we are to detect new strains of the virus and counter them before they have had the chance to spread."
"We have a pandemic twice every century," said Lord Soley, chair of the Lords Intergovernmental Organizations Committee. "If something developed in a country with a developed healthcare system, you would stop it before it went round the world. You cannot have that confidence about the developing world."
The report expressed concern that global pandemics are more likely than ever before, given the sheer volume of modern trade and tourism. It singled out the World Health Organization for criticism, saying that the organization needs a fundamental overhaul in structure.
"Given the threats to global health that we face from newly emerging infectious diseases, a dysfunctional organizational structure within the world's principal policy-making, standard-setting and surveillance body simply cannot be afforded," it said.