Swine flu: Action and response from the Cochrane Library

Fears about Swine Flu and notions of the best methods of preventing the spread are sweeping over the world like wild fire, with everyone voicing a different opinion. Is stocking Tamiflu the best option? Do facemasks work? Should we be constantly washing our hands, or never leaving the house?

The Cochrane Library, viewed as the Gold Standard in Evidence Based Medicine, has 17 systematic reviews available on the prevention and treatment of influenza. All are available on www.thecochranelibrary.com and have been made free to enable everyone in the world with access to the internet to view the evidence and the answers for themselves.

The Editor-in-Chief of The Cochrane Library, Dr. David Tovey, stated that, "Reviews in The Cochrane Library evaluate all the high quality trials of the interventions in question, rather than just a selective sample. This means that The Library is the best place to go do to find the evidence to guide healthcare decisions."

Dr. Tom Jefferson, who has been studying influenza research for twenty years and is the author of many of the Cochrane Reviews, added "Our reviews have shown that the most effective interventions are not drugs, but ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, wash your hands, and if you get sick, stay at home."

The Cochrane Library is the publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, who have put together a Swine Flu Taskforce as part of their Evidence Aid initiative, responding to health crises with the best evidence available. The Taskforce was assembled rapidly to address a key area of the world's need for information in the face of a possible influenza pandemic: reliable evidence on the effects of interventions to prevent and treat the disease. The Taskforce has prepared additional material to accompany the reviews in The Cochrane Library, including podcasts and slideshows (available on www.cochrane.org).

Professor Chris Del Mar, co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group based in Australia who is leading the Taskforce, said, "The Cochrane Collaboration is fortunate to be able to call upon such an international group of experts engaged in reviewing the evidence on interventions aimed at the prevention and treatment of influenza. We are closely monitoring the developing situation to ensure that Cochrane evidence is as relevant as possible."

"People making policy and taking decisions need reliable evidence, never more so than when facing a potential pandemic," said Professor Mike Clarke, Director of the UK Cochrane Centre, who is jointly leading the Taskforce with Professor Del Mar. "Cochrane Reviews play a key role in compiling and disseminating this evidence, making it easier for people to make the best decisions about preventing and treating influenza."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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