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Inconsistencies in pandemic flu preparedness between European countries

Considerable gaps exist among European national pandemic plans, according to a new report published in the online edition of The Lancet on 20 April 2006.

The report, 'How prepared is Europe for Pandemic Influenza? An analysis of national plans', issued by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), reveals marked discrepancies in pandemic preparedness across Europe. The authors conclude that further planning and implementation is needed so that governments can effectively respond in the event of a pandemic, recommending action by the European Union to ensure governments work together towards a coordinated approach.

Dr Richard Coker, the report's lead author said: 'Wide gaps exist in the pandemic preparedness of European nations. With the ongoing spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in birds, and the impending threat of a pandemic, European nations need to work together to adequately prepare for the onset of such a pandemic.'

The LSHTM researchers reviewed the preparedness initiatives of all 25 European Union member states, as well as Bulgaria, Norway, Romania and Switzerland. 21 published national plans were eligible to be included in the final analysis.

The completeness and quality of these 21 national preparedness plans was assessed based on the World Health Organization's (WHO) preparedness checklist , addressing levels of:

  • Planning and coordination
  • Surveillance
  • Public health interventions (public health control measures, vaccines and antivirals)
  • Health system response
  • Maintenance of essential services
  • Communication
  • Putting plans into action

Based on these evaluation criteria, the completeness score of the plans ranged from 24% to 80%, with the average level of completeness calculated as 54%.

With 194 confirmed cases of avian influenza in humans to date , experts, including the WHO, a
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Contact: Lindsay Wright
lindsay.wright@lshtm.ac.uk
207-927-2073
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
19-Apr-2006


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