The World Health Organisation warned yesterday that Asian countries that have no, or inadequate, pandemic preparedness plans will ultimately be held responsible by their own people if they are left scrambling in the event of a pandemic. The WHO was responding to a report in The Lancet published on Tuesday that found a wide disparity in approaches throughout Asia. The report also highlighted gaps in readiness between rich governments - such as Hong Kong - and poor nations, such as the mainland. 'The next pandemic will test notions of global solidarity. If the next pandemic were to occur tomorrow, [the world] would probably be found wanting,' wrote Richard Coker and Sandra Mounier-Jack of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. While the mainland has focused on expanding its capacity to detect diseases and respond to victims, it could be caught off guard if a pandemic were to break out soon. This was also true for Vietnam and Thailand, the research said. Hong Kong's plans were broadly in line with those of Australia and New Zealand, and compared favourably 'with the best of European plans', The Lancet added. Dick Thompson, the WHO team leader on pandemic and outbreak communications, said countries in Asia 'are accountable to their citizens, not WHO' if they did not have plans in place. 'The WHO provides guidance, not directives. Countries have to determine the threat for themselves,' Mr Thompson said from the Geneva headquarters of WHO. Why bird-flu hit countries Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia still did not have published plans could only be answered by the governments themselves, he added. The spokesman for the WHO Representative Office in China, Roy Wadia, said there had been criticisms that the WHO pandemic plan is 'skewed more towards developed countries rather than developing countries or those in transition, like the mainland'. Although authorities on the mainland have said they had preparedness plans at every level of government, Mr Wadia said there still needed to be a long-term plan in place. 'Two trains on two tracks if you will, converging ultimately onto one track and one locomotive,' he said from Beijing.