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News Outlets Examine International Efforts To Contain H1N1

A WHO official on Tuesday backed the Afghan government’s decision to declare H1N1 (swine flu) a health emergency, forcing the closure of all schools in the country for three weeks in an effort to contain the virus, IRIN reports. H1N1 has reportedly infected over 300 people, resulting in two deaths.

WHO Investigates Cases Of H1N1 Drug Resistance In U.S., Britain

The WHO is looking into reports that patients with “severely suppressed immune systems” in Britain and the U.S. developed resistance Tamiflu, which is used to treat the symptoms of H1N1 (swine flu), a spokesman for the organization said Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Scientists Use New Communications, Research Technologies To Quickly Identify, Contain Microbes

Since the outbreak of what became known as SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, 10 years ago, scientists have been quick to identify and contain new viruses, which they attribute to improved communication among researchers and from the general public, NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. In addition to the Internet and social media, the International Health Regulations, which went into effect in 2007, “require countries to report disease outbreaks right away to the World Health Organization,” according to the blog. “Better communications aside, the world has another big advantage over the SARS era,” as the genetic sequencing of new pathogens can be determined quickly, rather than over a period of months, the blog writes, noting, “Knowing the genetic sequence gives researchers a lot of clues about where the virus may have come from” and “also has enabled them to devise a quick and reliable diagnostic test, plus a confirmatory test, so doctors can tell if an acutely ill patient is infected with the new virus or something else” (Knox, 10/3).

WHO Releases H1N1 Emergency Committee Roster

Five of the fifteen experts advising the WHO on H1N1 (swine flu) had ties to the pharmaceutical industry, “including for flu vaccine research,” according to the Emergency Committee members’ list released by the agency Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports.

Also In Global Health News: IDUs In Kenya; Haiti Recovery; Pandemic Preparedness; Somalia Hunger; HIV In Mozambique; Strengthening Immune System Against HIV

Kenya Drafts Policy To Address HIV In IDUs In Kenya, “[i]ntravenous drug users (IDUs) have been largely ignored by the government’s HIV programmes on the basis that drug-taking is illegal, but a new policy is being drafted with the aim of reducing HIV transmission among this high-risk group,” IRIN/PlusNews reports.…

WHO Declares End Of H1N1 Pandemic

“World Health Organisation Director-General Margaret Chan announced Tuesday the end of the [H1N1] swine flu pandemic, more than a year after it was declared,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The world is no longer in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period,” Chan said during a virtual press conference from Hong Kong, according to a WHO press release.

News Outlets Look At How H1N1 Will Inform WHO’s Future Outbreak Response

Following the WHO’s decision on Tuesday to declare the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic over, several news outlets reviewed the emergence of the virus around the world, exploring how some of the lessons learned from H1N1 could assist the WHO’s handling of future outbreaks.

WHO Publishes Comprehensive Report On H1N1

“A year after the H1N1 [swine] flu first appeared, the World Health Organization has issued perhaps the most comprehensive report on the pandemic’s activity to date,” HealthDay News/Bloomberg Business Week reports (Gardner, 5/5).

Recent Releases In Global Health

WHO Bulletin Editorial Reflects On Health-Related MDGs Progress, Challenges After highlighting successes and failures of efforts to reach the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an editorial appearing in the WHO Bulletin reflects, “[t]he variable progress achieved begs the question of the feasibility of the MDG goals and targets. … The MDGs…