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PacNet #17A – SARS – An Opportunity for APEC

The rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a compelling demonstration of the need for a truly global health network to fight future epidemics. The particulars of this outbreak also highlight the role that the Asia-Pacific will have to play in this effort. The region’s population density, its income and development disparities, and its economic dynamism create an environment that breeds and facilitates the spread of these diseases. The problem has existed for some time; SARS has underscored the need for a more creative response to such outbreaks. One avenue, relatively unexplored, is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. SARS is an opportunity to invigorate this sometimes moribund institution.