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Global meeting in London looks ahead in public health

Health ministers from around the world met today to discuss the ongoing threat to public health from the current H1N1 pandemic, maintaining effective responses globally, and looking ahead to how the pandemic could develop.

The 10th ministerial meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI), hosted in London by the Department of Health, was attended by representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, UK, the US, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization.

Public Health Minister, Gillian Merron, chaired the meeting to conclude the group's annual work and set the agenda for the next twelve months. Among the next priorities was urgent consideration of how the H1N1 virus will progress. This may include the virus becoming the dominant seasonal strain next year, having implications for vaccines and other preventive measures.

Gillian Merron said: “Diseases don't respect borders so we need an international response to them. The global effort to tackle the pandemic has been impressive and would not have been possible without such cooperation.

“Never before have we been in such a fortunate position to get vaccine out so quickly, tackling the virus at its peak. Our solidarity has also meant that crucial evidence and information could be shared between us."

Further discussions around pandemic flu focused on:

  • Vaccines: noting the particular risk to certain groups, vaccination remains a top priority, offering the best defence against the virus. Vaccine manufacturers are encouraged to maintain open communications regarding delivery schedules to assist governments in their planning. Members also committed to continue to share vaccine adverse reaction information.
  • International assistance: the Initiative committed to maintaining close links with the WHO and international partners to support other countries needing assistance in responding to the pandemic.
  • Research: sharing evidence and research about the pandemic will improve the global response.

Global Health Security Initiative