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EU Parliament Approves Resolution Calling For Countries To Revise Pandemic Response

On the heels of the release of a draft report by an independent panel of experts examining the WHO’s response to H1N1 (swine flu), BMJ News reports on a recently approved resolution and accompanying report released by the European Union parliament that calls on EU countries to revise their flu prevention plans “to make them more effective, coherent, and flexible” and for the WHO to revise its definition of pandemic to take into account not only geographical spread of disease but also severity.

The resolution and report, both drafted by the French Green Member of the European Parliament Michele Rivasi, emphasize “the need for stronger cooperation among national authorities [in the event of a pandemic,] including the possibility of group purchase of antiviral vaccines and treatment products and the closer involvement of health professionals at every stage in preparing and applying the necessary strategies,” according to BMJ News. “This report is an important attempt to highlight the concerns that have been raised about the disproportionate response to swine flu in Europe, as well as the potential influence of pharmaceutical companies in response processes,” Rivasi said.

The resolution, which was approved on March 8 and has no legal authority, also addressed the role of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in assessing and communicating disease risks to authorities, BMJ New notes. The resolution “sends a strong political signal that important changes should be made to cope with any future pandemic,” according to the publication (Watson, 3/14).

Bangladesh Records First Bird Flu Case In A Person This Year 

On Monday, Bangladesh’s disease surveillance agency confirmed that a 13-month-old girl had tested positive for H5N1 (bird flu) in the capital city of Dhaka – the country’s first case in 2011 and second case since 2008, bdbews24.com (3/14). Also on Monday, the WHO reported that a 2-year-old boy and a 31-year-old woman from Indonesia’s West Java province had died of the disease, CIDRAP News reports (Roos, 3/14). “Of the 174 cases [of H5N1] confirmed to date in Indonesia, 144 have been fatal,” according to a WHO statement (3/14). In total, “[a]vian flu has so far killed 306 people out of 518 infected in 15 countries and most of these cases have been linked to close contact with infected poultry or their secretions,” according to bdnews.com (3/14).

China’s CDC Picked By WHO To Collaborate On Flu Research

“The National Influenza Center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been designated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, making China the first developing country to house such an institution,” China Daily/CRIENGLISH reports. Under WHO coordination, the Chinese center will work with similar institutions in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. to monitor, research and respond to influenza outbreaks and plan for pandemics. The facilities will also issue recommendations on the strains to be included in the seasonal flu vaccines (3/15).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.