Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 11/2010

Examining Pandemic Responses in Asia

Li Hongyan, Ong Suan Ee

October 2010

Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies


The Asian region has been no stranger to pandemic disease outbreaks in the last two decades. Each outbreak has yielded different impacts upon the region and has been handled differently by the local and international authorities involved. The management of each outbreak has undoubtedly played an integral role in mitigating or accelerating its spread across borders and regions. In the past decade, there have been two main epidemics that spread rapidly through human-to-human transmission, namely, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 and the influenza A (H1N1), or swine flu, outbreak in 2009. This NTS Insight will examine the responses in Asia to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic given the 2003 SARS epidemic as a prior reference point. It will also outline several policy recommendations based on lessons learned from the handling of the H1N1 outbreak.