WHO workshop on IHR and pandemic influenza preparedness in the Pacific
A WHO workshop on the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) and pandemic influenza preparedness (PIP) in the Pacific was held in Nadi, Fiji Islands, from 2 to 5 November 2005.
The objectives of the workshop were:
- to advocate the implementation of the IHR (2005) and increase awareness of the regulations among policy-makers and health officials in Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs);
- to identity gaps and priority action areas for implementing the IHR (2005) in PICTs;
- to provide updated knowledge on the current avian influenza A (H5N1) outbreak, and the risk and possible impact of pandemic influenza;
- to advocate and increase awareness of the importance and urgency of strengthening national pandemic influenza preparedness in the Pacific;
- to develop feasible action plans for improving pandemic influenza preparedness in the Pacific.
The results of the proceedings are summarised below:
- Public health measures and cluster surveillance are obviously priority areas that PICTs should address in planning PIP.
- Regional coordination, particularly through SPC and WHO, is crucial in areas such as inter-country harmonisation, medical supplies, and support to PICTs.
- Group work on PIP identified the technical and financial resources necessary for pandemic preparedness and key issues for discussion by the influenza specialist group (see below).
- A summary of findings from the PIP questionnaire completed by PICT delegates at the workshop was presented. Basically, many PICTs have started PIP planning, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
- The workshop also emphasised the links between PIP and the new IHR and the possible “cross-use” of the resources available to achieve greater sustainability in terms of preparedness.
The conclusions and recommendations of the workshop are now being finalised; a report will be posted on WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office website in the near future.
Subsequent meeting of PPHSN influenza specialist group
PPHSN influenza specialist group (ISG) members who were present met straight after the WHO workshop on Saturday afternoon (5 November). The group was able to answer some of the key issues raised at the workshop and members organised to undertake the work needed to address questions requiring more research.
The outputs of this meeting will be shared with all PPHSN members.
Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Pacific Community
Dr Tom Kiedrzynski, SPC epidemiologist, gave a presentation on pandemic influenza at the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Pacific Community in Koror, Palau, in mid-November. The presentation raised a lot of discussion with the subject obviously attracting close attention from PICT delegates. PPHSN’s work in the area of pandemic influenza preparedness was acknowledged.
More information on the conference is available on SPC’s website: http://www.spc.int/
Dr Tom Kiedrzynski