The medical professionals in New Zealand are seeking legal protection in the event of a bird flu pandemic breaking out in the country, when they would be compelled to work under adverse circumstances. If the occupational health and safety (OSH) regulations in force in the country are breached, the doctors are liable to be sued as per the law.
This is very much likely when a bird flu pandemic breaks out and there is an acute shortage of medical professionals to deal with the enormity of the problem, according to Ross Boswell of the New Zealand Medical Association. Boswell has insisted upon a legislation which will protect doctors under such circumstances, in the absence of which doctors will be reluctant to take risks.
A similar situation arose in New Orleans when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina, and hospital workers could not work as there was no indemnity protection in place. Changes need to be made in the country's state of emergency regulations. This will enable the medical profession to cater to the flood of patients in the event of a pandemic. The Health Ministry of New Zealand has already been appraised of these concerns.
The bird flu is reported to be capable of mutating rapidly, making it all the more difficult to treat the ailment. The efficacy of the antiviral Tamiflu is also being questioned in medical circles. Most Asian countries do not have the resources to deal with a problem of such a magnitude and foreign assistance may be required. The Asian nations also suffer from brain drain as many of their medical professionals are migrating to rich western countries.