NB. Please note that if you are outside North America, the embargo for LANCET press material is 0001 hours UK Time Friday 18 April 2003.
This week's Lancet Editorial comments on how China can learn from mistakes made in its handling of the SARS crisis-especially in relation to the increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
'China's lack of openness about SARS is unfortunately reminiscent of its historic response to other health challenges the country faces, including a high suicide rate, especially among women, problems with the safety of its blood supply, and a rapid spread of HIV/AIDS', comments the editorial. It also points out how slow information-gathering from rural districts and a secretive attitude to national health statistics are problems common to China and are issues that present challenges to new leaders of a country that have recently joined the World Trade Organisation and a country that will be under the global spotlight when it hosts the 2008 Olympics.
The editorial concludes: "Once it has provided full and accurate information that will enable SARS to be brought under control, China might well turn its attention to another infectious disease crisis. A concerted effort to compile accurate statistics on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS would demonstrate that China is able to learn from its mistakes, and agile and wise enough to acknowledge its responsibilities not only to its own citizens but also to the rest of the world'.