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By Catholic Online

3/11/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.N. body committed many mistakes in H1Ni outbreak, according to report

A panel commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate its handling of the swine flu pandemic has found many egregious mistakes made by the U.N. body. The panel warns that tens of millions could die if there is a severe flu outbreak in the future.

A recent report has made a stern warning that under WHO's health oversight, the world is not ready to handle a major health disaster in the future.

A recent report has made a stern warning that under WHO's health oversight, the world is not ready to handle a major health disaster in the future.

Highlights

By Catholic Online

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/11/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: WHO, swine flu, H1N1, pandemics


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The review committee evaluated its performance after the 2009 global outbreak of swine flu, or H1N1. The committee concluded that WHO performed well in many ways, but made crucial errors.

Among the many criticisms, the report described the organizations definition of a pandemic as "needlessly complex." In addition, the report criticized the agency's decision to keep the members of its advisory committee secret, and said potential conflicts of interest among those experts, some of whom had ties to drug companies, were not well managed.

The report made a stern warning that under WHO's health oversight, the world is not ready to handle a major health disaster in the future.

"The world is ill-prepared to respond to a severe influenza pandemic or to any similarly global, sustained and threatening public health emergency," experts wrote.

Despite recent progress, "the unavoidable reality is that tens of millions of people would be at risk of dying in a severe global pandemic," the report said.

The report will be presented during a meeting at WHO in Geneva later this month before being finalized.

Above all, swine flu was described as a mild virus and most people infected didn't need medical treatment to recover. That led some critics to suggest WHO's declaration of a pandemic was the result of collusion with pharmaceutical companies, who made millions selling vaccines worldwide.

Those suspicions were spearheaded by groups including the Council of Europe and the medical journal BMJ, who accused WHO of relying on doctors with ties to drug companies. WHO denied pharmaceutical interests swayed their decisions but acknowledged they could have handled the outbreak better. The agency said any potential conflicts of interests were properly disclosed.

In the report, scientists said WHO should also have considered how serious swine flu was in its definition. Experts also said that despite WHO sending 78 million doses of swine flu shots to dozens of countries, shipments got bogged down in bureaucracy and arrived late.

"It would be terribly unfair to blame WHO because it takes the whole world to respond to (a pandemic)," Michael Osterholm, a flu expert at the University of Minnesota said. "This report is as much a commentary on the global governance of infectious diseases as it is on WHO."

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