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Cablegate: Who: 58th World Health Assembly: Who Technical

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GENEVA 001667

SIPDIS

FODAG

DEPT FOR IO/T AND OES
PASS TO HHS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO WHO
SUBJECT: WHO: 58TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY: WHO TECHNICAL
BRIEFING ON STRENGTHENING PANDEMIC INFLUENZA PREPAREDNESS
AND RESPONSE


1. The Global Health Security Action Initiative (GHSI) and
the WHO Secretariat hosted a technical briefing on pandemic
influenza preparedness and response at the 58th World Health
Assembly on May 18 2005. Formal presentations included Dr.
Guenael Rodier, Director, Department of Communicable Disease
Surveillance and Response (CSR)/WHO; Dr. Richard Nesbit,
Director, Programme Management, WHO Regional Office for the
Western Pacific (WPRO); Dr. Klaus Stohr, Coordinator, WHO
Global Influenza Programme; Dr. Ungchusak Kumnuan, Director,
Bureau of Epidemiology, Department of Disease Control,
Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Thailand; Dr. Bruce Gellin,
Director, National Vaccine Program Office, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services; and Dr. David Salisbury, Principal
Medical Officer, Department of Health of the United Kingdom
for the GHSI. Representatives of national delegations to the
WHA, WHO staff, and the public attended the briefing.

2. The general theme of the briefing was that, while the
timing is unpredictable, experts are certain that a new
influenza pandemic will occur in the foreseeable future. The
assembled experts at the briefing emphasized that, because of
a pandemic's inherent threat to public health, the
probability of significant economic and social disruption,
and the predictability that countries will be unable to
control a pandemic within their borders once it starts, all
countries need to have and exercise influenza pandemic
response and contingency plans in anticipation of a
pandemic's emergence. According to the presentations,
national health authorities should base these plans on sound
science, and use culturally and socially acceptable public
health practices, and fit within the constraints of resources
available to a country, and these plans should form the basis
of a national pandemic strategy. The experts underlined that
both plans and strategies should have a focus on preparedness
action, including strengthening national influenza diagnostic
capability, improving practices in hospital care and patient
management, expanding the ability to detect influenza cases
through epidemiological surveillance, and timely as well as
transparent reporting of human and avian influenza cases.

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3. A general consensus emerged among presenters that the
H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza, as a risk
factor for a pandemic emergence, is now entrenched in wild
life and silent reservoirs in East and South East Asia.
Control of the virus will require improved communications and
cooperation between Ministries of Health and Ministries of
Agriculture in the affected countries to improve the
detection of avian influenza cases in animals and develop an
accurate interpretation of their significance to public
health. The group also concluded that control will need to
include such activities as improved biosecurity practices for
poultry, protecting agricultural workers from avian influenza
virus exposure, and promoting food safety practices to
prevent the transmission of the virus to humans from chicken,
duck and goose blood or uncooked flesh. (NOTE: Scientists
believe proper cooking of fowl kills the virus; therefore
eating cooked chickens, ducks and geese does not present a
risk. END NOTE.)

4. The experts urged all countries to strengthen their
political commitment to influenza pandemic preparedness and
planning, at the national level. The presenters emphasized
that it is the investment in preparedness now, nationally,
regionally and globally, that countries make in themselves
that will mitigate the effects of a pandemic when it strikes.
Moley

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