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Joint Effort among Various Nations to Tackle Bird Flu

by Medindia Content Team on  April 20, 2006 at 11:38 AM Bird Flu News   - G J E 4
Joint Effort among Various Nations to Tackle Bird Flu
According to an analysis that was conducted by the London School of Hygiene, to access the preparation to tackle the bird flu pandemic across Europe, it was found that serious gaps in some national plans and big variations between countries existed. The Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland and Portugal were the least prepared. It is necessary that all the countries have to plan in such a way that they need to collaborate with neighboring countries.
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Researcher Richard Coker said that even the countries that are well prepared had significant gaps and these vary from country to country. No plan stands out as being much better than the others. The survey results were published in the journal of Lancet and focused on 18 European Union countries plus Switzerland, Norway and Romania. Researchers assessed the 21 national plans against the World Health Organization's preparedness checklist. Their scores ranged from 24 % to 80% for completeness and from 27% to 86 % for quality. The researchers decided to divide the countries into three groups of seven. France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and UK had the most complete plans.

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A coherent approach has to be laid out in which countries need to learn from one another. This would be very useful when people are trying to cross borders in search of resources such as antiviral drugs and better healthcare. It is always better to plan ahead about the approximate number of people that would be infected with a new pandemic strain of flu, how many will need hospital treatment and how many will die. It was estimated that more than 1m flu deaths across Europe was expected. Every country recommends treatment with Roche's Tamiflu but it is not very clear as to which groups should receive priority when stocks are scarce.

Priority recipients include healthcare workers, other key workers and people who are at high risk of serious complications from flu or who cannot be vaccinated. The researchers say government stockpiling of antiviral drugs varies greatly between countries but the true position for Europe in relation to antiviral coverage remains unclear and is constantly changing. Roche announced that stockpiling of about 3m treatment courses of Tamiflu was complete. The Swiss company said that it would store half the stockpile in Switzerland and half in the US, for the WHO to use as a fire blanket to contain any pandemic in the area where it starts.

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