Call for EU pandemic preparedness28th February 2007
The European Union has still 2-3 years' work to do before it is adequately prepared for an influenza pandemic, a recent report has warned.
In spite of 'considerable progress' since 2005, the EU still needed to integrate preparations, make plans work locally and internationally, and expand influenza research, according to the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
EU nations should also do more to combat seasonal influenza outbreaks, ECDC said in a recent report evaluating pandemic preparedness.
"ECDC estimates that a further two to three years of sustained effort are needed by the EU and its member states to achieve the level of preparedness needed to respond well to a pandemic," said the report, which involved 25 EU states, plus Iceland and Norway. An update is due later this year.
Health officials called on EU governments to sustain momentum for the next 2-3 years and take the steps outlined in the report.
According to ECDC, a good response means primary care facilities and hospitals can treat the infected without damaging other care, vaccines reach primary care systems within six months of an outbreak and food, power and fuel are still available at the local level.
Experts at WHO and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred.
The H5N1 avian influenza virus, or bird flu, is a likely candidate, but so far the virus is not efficiently transmitted between humans.
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Title: Call for EU pandemic preparedness
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 2116
Date Added: 28th Feb 2007