GENEVA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The world is ill-prepared to respond to a severe influenza pandemic or to any similarly global, sustained, and threatening public health emergency, an independent expert-committee entrusted by World Health Organization (WHO) said at its fourth meeting here on Monday.
The Review Committee, tasked to look into the experience gained in the global response to the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009, issued its preliminary report at the meeting.
In the report, the Committee said, "global preparedness can be advanced through research, strengthened health-care delivery systems, economic development in low and middle-income countries and improved health status."
It recommended that international society establish an extensive global public health reserve corps consisted of experts and public health professionals, which could be deployed to support countries in need, in case of future pandemics.
Another suggestion was to create a contingency fund for public health emergencies to be held in trust at an institution such as the World Bank, in order to provide financial support during a declared public health emergency of international concern.
The report also urged WHO member states to reach an agreement on sharing of viruses and access to vaccines, and encouraged them to run independent or cooperative influenza research program.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said at the opening of the meeting that the report had offered "critical guidance to all ministers of health who need to make far-reaching decisions."
She said the recommendations in the report would help to " improve the capacity of WHO and the international community to respond to public health emergencies" and therefore should be taken with "added urgency."
In January 2010, WHO's Executive Board established a Review Committee, at Chan's proposal, to review the experience gained in response to the H1N1 pandemic, as well as the International Health Regulations and WHO's functioning in tackling the disease.
The Committee is expected to prepare its final report out of the current preliminary version, and submit it to the decision- making body of WHO in May.