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Health Officials Encourage Caution, Despite H1N1 Case Decline

As the number of new H1N1 (swine flu) infections worldwide drops, U.S. health officials on Friday cautioned the virus continues to circulate and can still be deadly, Reuters reports. According to the WHO, H1N1 remains the dominant strain worldwide, but there are reports of the recent emergence of the seasonal flu in Africa and China, according to the news agency.

New York Times Examines WHO Process For Getting H1N1 Vaccines To Countries In Need

The New York Times examines the WHO’s role as “clearinghouse” for getting H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines to lower income nations. Though H1N1 has died down in North America and many wealthier nations “are trying to get rid of their [vaccine] surpluses,” the virus continues to circulate in regions of North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, according to the newspaper.

Canada To Donate 5M Doses Of H1N1 Vaccine To WHO; Agency Has Received Commitment Of 200M Vaccines

The Canadian government on Thursday announced the country would donate five million doses of H1N1 vaccines to the WHO from the country’s current surplus, the Canadian Press reports (Branswell, 1/28). “[T]he donation will help the Geneva-based international body in its efforts to redistribute the vaccine to developing countries that couldn’t afford their own supplies,” the Globe and Mail reports (Alphonso, 1/28).

African Vaccine Maker Plans To Increase Production Capacity Sevenfold By 2013

Biovac Institute, a South African vaccine maker, said Monday that it is working with other major pharmaceutical firms to increase its annual capacity sevenfold to 35 million doses by 2013, Reuters reports. Morena Makhoana, the company’s deputy chief executive, said that 25 million of those doses will remain in Africa.

WHO Addresses Handling Of H1N1 At Council Of Europe Meeting

During a Council of Europe meeting on Tuesday to address the WHO’s handling of the H1N1 virus, the WHO said it had not “fallen under the sway of drugs firms and exaggerated the dangers of the H1N1 flu virus, but said it might have handled the crisis better,” Reuters reports. “Critics say the WHO relied too much on advice from advisers in the pay of the pharmaceutical industry, triggering an internal review by the WHO and an inquiry by the Council of Europe, a pan European human rights watchdog,” writes the news service (Reilhac, 1/26).

Also In Global Health News: Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis; Extreme Conditions In Mongolia

ICRC Appeals For Attention To Yemen’s Growing Humanitarian Crisis The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday appealed to countries participating in an international conference on Yemen’s threat to global security this week in London to also discuss the deepening humanitarian crisis the country is facing, the Associated Press/Taiwan…

WHO Director-General Highlights Global Health Gains, Challenges At Executive Board Meeting

During the WHO’s recent executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan reflected on public health gains over the past decade and the challenges that lie ahead, Nigeria’s Guardian reports. Chan commended the international community’s response to H1N1 and global efforts to reduce child mortality, fight malaria and tuberculosis.

WHO Rejects Accusations It Mishandled H1N1, Updates Worldwide Stats

WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl on Monday rejected accusations that the organization miscategorized H1N1 (swine flu) as a pandemic, calling such accusations “irresponsible,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “WHO also dismissed claims it colluded with drug companies to bring economic benefit to the industry by playing up the danger of the new H1N1 [swine flu] influenza strain,” the news service writes.

Opinion: Haiti Relief; WHO Response To H1N1

Long-Term Rebuilding Strategy ‘Vital’ To Haiti An Economist editorial examines the relief and recovery efforts in Haiti and the “vital” importance of planning for rebuilding the country “before the world’s generosity turns to cynicism. Fortunately there is a blueprint, drawn up by Haiti’s government and presented to donors last year. It…