Influenza pandemic preparedness planning at EU levelslide

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Generic preparedness

On 28 November 2005 the Commission adopted an EU Generic preparedness planning to address threats and emergencies affecting or likely to affect public health in more than one EU country. The plan provides a structure to which other elements can be added to address different types of health threat, whether they are foreseen (such as pandemic influenza) or unforeseen (e.g. a SARS-type epidemic), involve biological, chemical, physical or radionuclear agents, or are caused by deliberate acts, accidents or natural events.

More on EU generic preparedness planning

Influenza pandemic preparedness planning : a priority for the European Commission

Pandemic influenza, which is life-threatening, requires a high level of preparedness, so specific preparedness plans are put in place both at national and at EU level.

The Commission has identified influenza as a priority area within the Community network for communicable diseases, established by Decision No 2119/98/EC pdf according to which the Commission must help EU countries improve the coordination of prevention and control measures for certain communicable diseases at EU level, in accordance with agreed case definitions pdf.

The WHO and the Commission are empowered to recognize a pandemic . The Commission can recognize a pandemic independently of the WHO, acting under the decision establishing the network for communicable diseases. In such a case a a variation to the terms of a marketing authorisation for human influenza vaccines may be temporarily considered, as laid down in Commission Regulations No 1084/2003/EC and 1085/2003/EC. These regulations allow for a simplified authorisation procedure, and faster marketing authorisations for pandemic influenza vaccines. See also the European Agency for the evaluation of medicinal products (EMEA) guidelinepdf on submitting marketing authorisation applications.

Influenza Pandemic preparedness planning at national level

National Pandemic Preparedness Plans are being drafted or are already in place in all EU countries. Vaccination is one of the most challenging responses, but in the event of a pandemic, a vaccine shortage is highly likely and very few EU countries have facilities to produce vaccines. Vaccine availability and access to anti-viral drugs is still determined at national level and access is not coordinated in the EU. However, the Commission has been working with the Health Security Committee and European vaccine manufacturers to ensure that an adequate supply of influenza vaccines in the EU can be provided in the shortest possible time in the event of a pandemic. The HSC endorsed a a document pdf recommending a partnership between the public sector and manufacturers on vaccine development and availability as part of a wider preparedness strategy. A similar approach is being taken for anti-virals.

The Commission, in collaboration with the WHO and the ECDC, is also organising visits to EU countries to assess and discuss national pandemic preparedness plans. The round of visits should be completed by June 2007.

Events organised to improve the EU state of preparedness

  • 27 November 2001 - the Commission organised a conference in Brussels which helped identify the essential elements of pandemic planning at EU level.
  • 26 March 2004 - the Commission adopted the Community Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Planning. The constitution of a Public Health Preparedness and Response Planning Group, which is competent to advise the Commission on actions to be taken in the event of an imminent pandemic threat, is an important step forward in the implementation of the Community planning.
  • 28 November 2005 - the Commission adopted a communication on influenza pandemic preparedness planning pdf to update the planning taking account of recommendations issued by the WHO and the establishment of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
  • 2-3 March 2005 - the Commission and the WHO organised a joint workshop pdf in Luxembourg with representatives from the 52 countries of the WHO European Region to discuss national preparedness plans for influenza pandemics. The meeting helped to determine the stage of pandemic planning in Europe, to exchange best practice and to discuss the main components of national planning.
  • 24-26 October 2005 - second workshop pdf in Copenhagen with the objective to continue to improve understanding of the planning for and management of a possible future influenza pandemic.
  • 15-17 May 2006 - follow-up meeting pdf in Uppsala.
  • January and June 2006 - the European Commission participated in two meetings gathering worldwide governments' and international organizations' representatives. These meetings took place in Beijing and Vienna pdf and were intended to organise the help to third countries affected by avian influenza in order to contain, control and combat the avian influenza virus at source.
  • 25-27 September 2007 - The Commission, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) jointly organised the fourth workshop on pandemic influenza. After the previous meetings in Copenhagen and Uppsala, Luxembourg hosted a packed assembly bringing together representatives not just from the 27 EU countries but from all 53 countries covered by the WHO's Office for Europe. Internationally reputed experts were invited to present the latest developments in scientific research on flu, bird flu and flu pandemics.
    The workshop provided an opportunity for a very profitable exchange of experience between countries at the sessions devoted to good practice and the two exercises on communication and the preparation of hospitals. Participants expressed their satisfaction at the end of the workshop.



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