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WHO Director-General Outlines Vision For Reform In World Health Assembly Opening Address

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Monday laid out her vision for reforming the international health agency in the opening address of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, saying she sees “a WHO that gives a bigger voice to the many partners working on health, but encourages them to speak with a coherent voice that responds, first and foremost, to the needs and priorities as defined by recipient countries,” Intellectual Property Watch reports.

Virus-Sharing Draft Agreement Very Close; U.S. Yet To Formally Approve, Reuters Reports

A draft agreement that would ensure countries would share virus samples in exchange for access to affordable vaccines derived from such samples in the event of a pandemic is nearly complete, senior diplomats told Reuters on Thursday. “Consensus has been reached across all regions, including Indonesia which three years ago stopped sharing influenza samples with the World Health Organization (WHO), but the United States has yet to give formal approval, they said,” according to the news service.

WHO Group Hopes To Have Virus-Sharing Draft Agreement Finalized By Friday

Countries are narrowing in on a “deal to speed up their response to the next flu pandemic by sharing virus samples in return for access to affordable vaccines,” co-chairs of a WHO working group told reporters on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The group, which is meeting this week and just last week was in meetings with drug manufacturers and WHO member states about the plans, says it hopes to have a draft agreement finalized by Friday to be voted on during next month’s World Health Assembly, according to the news service (Nebehay, 4/12).

Also In Global Health News: Potential Corruption With DFID Funds; HIV/AIDS In Tanzania; Drug Substitution Program In Afghanistan; Rare Disease Consortium; Pnuemonococcal Vaccine In DRC

U.K.’s National Audit Office Warns DFID To Be On Guard Against Possible Corruption The U.K.’s National Audit Office (NAO) on Wednesday issued a report on the financial management of the Department for International Development (DFID) warning that “the UK had no clear picture of the ‘extent, nature and impact’ of…

WHO Director-General Responds To Draft Report On Agency’s Handling Of H1N1 Pandemic

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on Monday responded to the first results of a probe into the agency’s response to the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, Agence France-Presse reports. While calling attention to where the external panel committee commended the agency’s actions, Chan also addressed the criticisms and recommendations issued in the draft report (3/28). Her comments came as the review committee held its “fourth and final public session” in Geneva to receive “feedback from countries and organizations on its preliminary report,” CIDRAP News reports (Schnirring, 3/28).

EU Parliament Approves Resolution Calling For Countries To Revise Pandemic Response

On the heels of the release of a draft report by an independent panel of experts examining the WHO’s response to H1N1 (swine flu), BMJ News reports on a recently approved resolution and accompanying report released by the European Union parliament that calls on EU countries to revise their flu prevention plans “to make them more effective, coherent, and flexible” and for the WHO to revise its definition of pandemic to take into account not only geographical spread of disease but also severity.