Emergencies preparedness, response

Director-General statement following the eighth meeting of the Emergency Committee

3 June 2010

The Emergency Committee held its eighth meeting by teleconference on 1 June 2010.

A global update was provided to the Committee on the pandemic situation, including a particular focus on developments in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. The most active areas of pandemic influenza virus transmission are currently in tropical areas, primarily in parts of the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. These areas are now experiencing a relatively low level of resurgence of cases after experiencing more intense activity during July 2009. In temperate zones of the Southern Hemisphere, countries are not reporting increases in influenza activity above epidemic thresholds, or unusually early influenza activity. Pandemic influenza activity across the African continent is low or sporadic; data from West Africa indicates that the active transmission of pandemic influenza virus has largely subsided after peaking during February and March 2010.

After extensive discussions and questions, the Committee expressed the unanimous view that from a global perspective while pandemic activity is continuing, the period of most intense pandemic activity appears likely to have passed for many parts of the world. Committee members stressed that it remains critical for countries to continue to maintain vigilance concerning the pandemic, including all necessary public health measures for disease control as well as influenza virus and disease surveillance.

Following the advice of the Emergency Committee, the Director-General determined that while the period of most intense pandemic activity has passed, pandemic disease is expected to continue to occur and that a further meeting of the Emergency Committee to reassess the epidemiological situation would be convened by mid July 2010, when information from the winter influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere will be available.

On a separate issue, the Director-General noted that the secretariat is following the practice of the Organization for public disclosure of the names of the Emergency Committee members to take place once the work of the Committee had been completed. The purpose of this practice is to protect the integrity and independence of the Members while doing this critical work - but also to ensure transparency by publicly providing the names of the members as well as information about any interest declared by them at the appropriate time. The Committee Members strongly concurred with this approach.