Experts Begin Probe Of WHO’s Response To H1N1

Health experts on Monday began a probe of how the WHO responded to the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic “nearly a year after global alarm was raised over the new swine flu strain,” Agence France-Presse reports (Capella, 4/12).

“WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the three-day review by 29 external experts, which opened on Monday morning in Geneva, should be ‘independent, credible and transparent,'” Reuters writes. “We want to know what worked well. We want to know what went wrong and, ideally, why. We want to know what can be done better and, ideally, how,” Chan said to the session (Nebehay, 4/12). A full transcript from Chan’s remarks to the review committee is available here (4/12).

The panels’ preliminary findings are scheduled to be released to WHO member states in May, the Canadian Press reports. A final report will be published in May 2011. A breakdown of how the WHO’s response to H1N1 will be evaluated is available here (4/12).

WHO Special Adviser on Pandemic Influenza Keiji Fukuda said of the goals of the expert analysis: “The bottom line for the process is to identify lessons learned, to identify what the world needs to do including countries and organizations like WHO to be better prepared and also to respond to future pandemics and to future large-scale global public health events,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 4/11).

In related news, the Canadian Press reports in a separate story that Health Canada, the country’s federal health department, on Friday “shortened the shelf life of unused supplies of GlaxoSmithKline’s adjuvanted H1N1 vaccine” by six months from the 18 months originally listed, “after testing showed some lots are losing their punch.”

Jirina Vlk, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada, “said Canada had informed the World Health Organization about the expiry date change and was looking into whether the move has an impact on the five million doses of vaccine Canada donated” to the agency, for redistribution to developing countries without access to the vaccines (Branswell, 4/10).

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