From SARS to A/H1N1, how far has China gone?

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The world has been suffering from the A H1N1 influenza virus that originated from Mexico and the US since April this year. So far, some 10000 confirmed cases have been reported in 42 countries and regions, including five from Chinese mainland.

The information transparency and the resolute actions taken by Chinese government on addressing the public health emergency as well as disease prevention and control have helped control the epidemic from further spreading in China.

The outbreak of SARS promoted the upgrade of the Chinese public medical system and the disease prevention and control system, which several years later, is now ready for this real test.

From SARS to A/H1N1, what experience has China drawn, and what progress has China made?
An isolated patient whose surname is Qin and a nurse wave to reporters at the isolation ward at the Beijing Ditan Hospital in Beijing, capital of China, May 20, 2009. (Xinhua Photo) China blamed for "overreacting" to A/H1N1 influenza virus

Responsible not only to China, but also to the world

Confirmed A/H1N1 patient in Shandong faced media without mask

          Resolute actions taken by Chinese government

Chinese government has put the prevention and control of the disease as a top priority. On April 28, when the epidemic had not been reported in China, President Hu Jintao urged the country to go on full alert to prevent the flu from entering China and to ensure public health.

The first confirmed case of A/H1N1 case on Chinese mainland was reported on May 10. One day later, Chinese president reiterated the importance of disease prevention and control and called on countries to spare no efforts in handling the virus. Premier Wen Jiabao also called for concerted effort for flu prevention and control during at a State Council meeting following the confirmed cases reported in China.

 
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R) and Vice Premier Li Keqiang (2nd R) shake hands with medical staff of Beijing Ditan Hospital in Beijing, capital of China, May 17, 2009.(Xinhua Photo)

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China's active participation in global battle against A/H1N1

China has actively taken part in the global campaign initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on prevention and control against A/H1N1 flu. China has enhanced cooperation with WHO and strengthened information transparency and monitoring as well as collaboration with other countries around the world.

During a telephone call on May 13, Chinese health minister Chen Zhu and WHO chief Maragret Chan exchanged views on strategies for A/H1N1 prevention and control, as well as the development of anti-flu vaccines. WHO has been updated on every step China takes in epidemic prevention.

 
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan speaks at a press conference in Geneva May 19, 2009.(Xinhua Photo)

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Openness and transparency more conducive to epidemic prevention and control

A strict information publicity system needs to be established, which can timely and accurately release the latest epidemic information at home and abroad so as to enhance the transparency in the epidemic prevention and control work, vice premier Li Keqiang said during a symposium held at the Ministry of Health on May 4.

During the first month of the SARS out break, uncertainty scared many people. However, the facts afterwards proved that openness and transparency are more conducive to control the disease. Additionally, SARS is preventable and controllable.

Mutated influenza viruses haven't been found for several decades. As early as five years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) began to monitor influenza viruses. It is not without any preparation when facing this new virus.

The A/H1N1 patient surnamed Bao (L) is about to leave the hospital in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, on May 17, 2009.  (Xinhua Photo) China reports suspected case of A/H1N1 influenza in Tibet

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Mobilize people from all walks of life to take part in disease prevention campaign

In times of crisis, political mobilization is an approach generally taken by governments worldwide. Appropriate political mobilization is favorable to end the spread of public health incidents.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have repeatedly urged the country to go on full alert and step up inspection and quarantine efforts.

The media plays an important role in the process of political mobilization, serving as an information distributor. Since April 24, A/H1N1 flu has been a major topic upon which all leading newspapers, websites and TV stations are focusing.

In order to cope with the A/H1N1 virus, China has adopted medical observation measures to which most citizens have expressed their understanding. This indicates that politics has played a role in mobilizing society. The quick response and countermeasures by governments at all levels has shown how political mobilization has played a role in urging them to perform their duties.
Lu Hongzhou (2nd L), the medical expert back from Mexico leaves after observation in Shanghai, May 13, 2009. Ninety-five Chinese nationals brought home from Mexico on May 6 are no longer quarantined amid fears of the A/H1N1 virus, but three others remain under observation in Shanghai. (Xinhua Photo)

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