HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Top Public Health Stories of 2005

From the Harvard School of Public Health's "World Health News":

Public Health 2005: Year in Review

In this special year-end edition, World Health News reviews the public health issues that shaped 2005.

The Year of Bird Flu
Human cases of influenza A (H5N1) infection have been reported in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

World Bird Flu Risk Is 'Gravest Possible'
Reported in the International Herald Tribune on February 24, 2005

"The risk that Asia's outbreak of avian influenza could turn into a deadly global pandemic has increased sharply in recent months, a top international health official warned on Wednesday. 'The world is now in the gravest possible danger of a pandemic,' said the official, Dr. Shigeru Omi, Western Pacific director of the World Health Organization. 'We need to consider urgent and decisive action in radical new ways.' Speaking by telephone from the sidelines of an avian flu conference in Vietnam, Omi said that in recent months it had become clear that strains of avian influenza that emerged last year were now entrenched, endemic, versatile and transmitted through animals showing no symptoms of the disease. If mutated to transmit between humans, he said, the deadly strain of influenza could spread quickly around the world and infect millions."

With stories on hunting bird flu in Cambodia; pursuing a bird flu vaccine in the U.S.; the WHO's 'bird flu strike force' in Switzerland; a $7.1 billion flu plan for the U.S.; and the effects bird flu has had on Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

Among the Highlights from 2005:

  • The Immediate and Lasting Effects of Hurricane Katrina
    Los Angeles Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • South Korean Stem Cell Research Suffers Major Setback
    The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and The Boston Globe
  • The Terri Schiavo Case
    St. Petersburg Times, Florida
  • Pakistan's Earthquake: The Rescue Effort, the Resulting Homelessness, and the Possibility of 'Donor Fatigue'
    The Observer (London) and The Christian Science Monitor
  • Refugee Crisis in Sudan
    The Washington Post
  • Toxic Spill in China Left Over 3 Million Without Running Water for Three Days
    International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times
  • AIDS: The Rath Controversy in South Africa, and the WHO's '3x5 Goal' Missed, But Praised
    The Guardian (London) and The New York Times
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Leave Indelible Mark on Global Health
    The Economist and Time magazine
  • Tsunami Relief Poses Major Challenges
    The Washington Post and The New England Journal of Medicine
  • Medicare Drug Benefit Sign-Up Begins
    The New York Times and The Washington Post
  • The War on Meth
    The New York Times, the Des Moines Register (Iowa), and The Oregonian
  • In Japan, Deaths from Asbestos Shock the Nation
    The Japan Times
  • Zimbabwe's 'Operation Clear Out the Trash' Leaves Many Homeless
    The Guardian (London)
  • Polio Vaccine: 50 Years Later
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • A Call to 'End Poverty Now' Grabs the Headlines
    The Economist, BBC News Online, and The Washington Post
  • Widespread Hunger in Niger
    The Guardian (London), BBC News Online, and The Washington Post
  • Morning-After Pill & the FDA
    The Washington Post, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The New York Times
  • Supreme Court Rules on Medical Marijuana, Juvenile Executions
    The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle
  • Outbreaks: Encephalitis Outbreak Hit India, and a Marburg Virus Outbreak Hit Angola
    BBC News Online and The New York Times
  • Strides Made in Fight Against Cancer
    The Baltimore Sun and The Wall Street Journal
  • Renewed Focus on Nutrition & Obesity in the U.S.
    The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Sacramento Bee
  • Merck Research Controversy Over Vioxx
    The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune
  • 'Rx for Survival': An Unprecedented Global Health Media Education Project
  • Los Angeles Times Editorial Series, 'Malaria -- The Sting of Death'
  • Courier-Journal (Kentucky) Investigation Looks at the State's Poor Health
  • Seattle Times Investigation Finds Drug Researchers Leak Secrets to Wall Street
  • Rocky Mountain News (Colorado) Juvenile Justice Series, 'Life for Death'

For links to the full text of these reports, go to


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