WHO Updates Guidance For Pandemic Flu Risk Management

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By Brittany Ngo for Intellectual Property Watch

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released an updated guidance document on pandemic influenza risk management, which includes the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework for the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits that was discussed by member states during the 66th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May.

The PIP framework brings together member states, industry, other stakeholders and WHO to implement a global approach to pandemic influenza preparedness and response. Important goals of the framework are to improve the sharing of influenza viruses and to achieve more “predictable, efficient, and equitable access of vaccines and medicines during future pandemics.”

The new document [pdf] also includes lessons learnt from influenza A (H1N1) pandemic and serves as an update and replacement for the 2009 document [pdf] titled Pandemic influenza preparedness and response: a WHO guidance document. The guidelines should align more closely “with the disaster risk management structures already in place in many countries, underscoring the need for appropriate and timely risk assessment for evidence-based decision-making at national, subnational and local levels.”

One of the important aspects of the 2013 guidance document is the inclusion of the all-hazards emergency risk management for health (ERMH) to pandemic flu risk management. The document states the objectives of emergency risk management for health are to: strengthen capacities to manage the health risks from all hazards; embed comprehensive emergency risk management in the health sector; and enable and promote multisectoral linkage and integration across the whole-of- government and the whole-of-society.

Content on the application of assessments of risk and severity has been strengthened in order to support implementation of a risk-based approach. Member states are encouraged to develop flexible plans, based on national risk assessment and also taking account the WHO global risk assessment.

Brittany Ngo is currently completing her Master’s in Health Policy and Global Health at the Yale School of Public Health and previously obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from Georgetown University. Through her studies she has developed an interest in health-related intellectual property issues. She is a summer intern at Intellectual Property Watch.

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