Intergovernmental Meeting of Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Sharing of Influenza Viruses and Access to Vaccines and other Benefits,
Statement by deputy permanent representative, Dr. Hilde Skorpen,
Pandemic influenza is a continuous threat to the global community. It is a common responsibility to ensure that there is a global response assuring access to benefits for all. We need to continue our efforts to make sure that all Member States are well prepared and can protect their population if a pandemic breaks out. The overriding issue is how to agree on the different elements of the pandemic preparedness system that will help us come up with an appropriate response to a possible outbreak.
Let me first start by commending the WHO’s broad based efforts aimed at increasing the level of preparedness in Member states..
Director General, we are confident that under your able leadership we will arrive at arrangements that are beneficial to all nations. I can assure you of our strong support for the work of the WHO.
Our first order of business must be to find common ground, based on a spirit of mutual interdependence, belonging and common cause. In our opinion two elements are vital:
First of all; we need to build on and strengthen the existing WHO influenza network. This network includes excellent and speedy surveillance combined with capacities to handle threats.. This includes antivirals, vaccines and, not to forget, non-pharmaceutical measures, in order to limit the speed of spread and disruptions to society that a large scale pandemic inevitably will cause. Let us not invent a new wheel. Let us improve the one we already have, to be able to address new challenges.
Secondly; benefits must be based on public health needs, and should cover all Member States. Equitable sharing of benefits, including capacity building and access to vaccines, is vital to the safety of our global community. A pandemic may strike every corner of the globe. There are no scientists or public health experts that can predict what kind of influenza virus will cause the next pandemic, or where it will start. A transparent system that reduces reduces the force of a pandemic strike will be beneficiary to all.
We need to recognize that all countries have a responsibility to contribute to strengthening the influenza pandemic preparedness system. This includes sharing of virus specimens and contributing to the strengthening of the individual Member State response.
It is our hope that this intergovernmental meeting will take us a significant step forward.
Thank you for your attention