The 126th World Health Organisation Executive Board session is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from 18th – 23rd January 2010. On the first day, the Director General, Dr Margaret Chan, took the opportunity to praise governments around the world for their handling of the H1N1 “swine” flu pandemic which spread from Mexico in 2009.
Although cautious about the rest of the Winter and the prospects for the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season beginning in May, Dr Chan praised the work of health care professionals and epidemic reporting:
The amount of data that have been collected since April of last year, and the number of research reports and studies that have been published, have been remarkable. This quick collection of information has allowed WHO to issue treatment guidelines, track the epidemiology, and keep a close watch for mutations, including those that confer resistance to antiviral drugs.
When the history of this pandemic is written, I believe that the speed of actions taken by governments to protect their populations will earn the highest marks. Though the burden on emergency rooms and intensive care units has been heavy, nearly all health systems have coped well. Let me pay tribute to all the health care workers who have worked tirelessly to care for patients.
The early standard of rapid and transparent reporting was upheld, and the sharing of information, diagnostic support, test kits, and viruses has been commendably generous. To date, well over 23,000 viruses and other specimens have been submitted to WHO network laboratories for analysis.
The Director General’s report also offered commiserations for a colleague killed in a bomb attack in Mogadishu as well as for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The report also offered more good news on the reduction in malaria, tuberculosis and measles deaths. For the full text of the speech, click here.