In the Fall 2009 issue of Resources, Ramanan Laxminarayan and Anup Malani examine the recent outbreaks of the H1N1 virus and SARS to find out what governments and health organizations are doing to report and contain deadly pandemics.
According to their research, the World Health Organization attempts to contain such outbreaks through rapid vaccination and quarantine, an approach that relies on early detection. Sanctions act as incentives to report but fears of trade and travel restrictions dissuade many countries from efforts to detect and report outbreaks.
The authors suggest that more valuable medical assistance and limits on sanctions could increase cooperation on surveillance and reporting. Laxminarayan and Milani hope that these findings “shed light on why countries have failed to cooperate fully on surveillance and reporting, and also point the way toward better cooperation.”
You can watch video of Laxminarayan, Malani, and other experts discussing these and other issues at RFF's October 2009 seminar "The Economics of Pandemics."