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The World Health Organization is to review its handing of the swine flu pandemic, as it again comes under attack in Europe over allegations it overhyped the dangers of H1N1.
Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s special adviser on pandemic influenza, says an independent group will review how well the WHO responded to the outbreak and also whether the risks of the virus were communicated properly. A key issue for the review will be the WHO’s decision to declare a pandemic (Reuters).
“If we look back to the beginning of the pandemic there was a lot of discussion about what do you call these things,” says Fukuda (AP). “These things affect how people perceive outbreaks and pandemics so I think it’s one of those issues that we have to think about.”
The announcement came as the WHO again came under attack for over-hyping the dangers of H1N1. According to the Guardian, the Council of Europe’s health committee is considering a report which currently says the WHO has “gambled away” public faith with its excessively scaremongering pronouncements on H1N1.
“When the next pandemic arises many persons may not give full credibility to recommendations put forward by WHO and other bodies,” says the draft report, according to the paper. “They may refuse to be vaccinated and may put their own health and lives at risk.”
However, the WHO is not without support. Alan Hampson, chairman of Australia’s Influenza Specialist Group, said suggestions the WHO had overreacted were “absolute nonsense” (Sydney Morning Herald). And the Kentucky Department for Public Health has released an advert ridiculing those who doubt the swine flu vaccine (video here).