The international community is failing to coordinate and strategically plan aid for the tsunami-struck regions of south Asia, comments this week's editorial in THE LANCET.
The devastation wreaked by the south-Asian tsunami has kick-started an unprecedented global response and led to unrestrained public acts of giving and helping. But while lack of money may not be one of the main difficulties facing relief efforts, the critical task of effectively distributing and co-ordinating aid remains unfulfilled.
The Lancet makes two proposals to address this issue. The first is to create an inter-governmental panel - under the umbrella of, but structurally separate from, the UN--to coordinate emergency relief over the coming months in south Asia.
The second is the formation of an International Commission on Global Responses to Complex Emergencies. This commission would draw on research evidence to set out recommendations and mechanisms to respond to man-made or natural disasters.
Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, comments: "Any catastrophe should be the trigger for a regional or global response that has been preplanned and tested in extreme circumstances. It should not be, as it is across the tsunami-hit regions of south Asia, that competing agendas of governments, international agencies, and aid organisations be allowed to impede the public's wish that they put aside self-interest in the spirit of pure human cooperation."
The Lancet today issues a call for papers describing experiences of health workers in countries affected by the south-Asian tsunami.