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Report highlights inadequate pandemic planning as a threat to EU security
Date:10/10/2007

October 10 2007. A report to be published in an upcoming issue of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Bulletin will call for urgent attention to the politically sensitive issue of border control, and the need for coherent and robust national plans in the face of a catastrophic flu pandemic . The report comes after the recent confirmation of person-to-person transmission of a strain of avian influenza A (HN51) in Northern Sumatra: although the outbreak was contained by voluntary quarantine and rapid administration of antiviral medication, scientists admitted that the world had dodged a bullet and may not be so lucky next time , , .

Governments need to work with their neighbours, sharing best practices and strategic thinking openly. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) might have successfully established pan-European surveillance procedures but the current significant differences in countries pandemic plans are likely to test any notion of global solidarity or security, said study author, Dr Richard Coker, Reader in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in the United Kingdom.

The report surveyed EU and bordering countries and found that:

  • Europe is broadly better prepared than a year ago, with most countries having drafted a preparedness plan
  • Fewer than half provide defined plans for distribution of antivirals or specific guidance on where vaccines would be stored, how they would be distributed, and who would administer them
  • Two thirds of national plans depart from WHO guidelines on the crucial step of limiting peoples movement from affected to unaffected areas

Concerns about the lack of restrictions on imported goods, and potential chaos caused by uncertainty about how to deal with travellers on board plane or ships from affected areas were also highlighted. Only eight countries of the thirty surveyed recommend separating sic
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Contact: Ruth Ashton
ruth.ashton@ketchum.com
020-761-13595
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Source:Eurekalert

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