Four countries to receive support from WHO influenza preparedness program

The World Health Organization announced the first four countries in the European Region to benefit from the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) framework on Tuesday during a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Armenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were selected to receive support from the PIP framework, which acts as an agreement between industry, civil society and governments to improve preparedness and access to vaccines and other medicines in the face of a pandemic. The countries will share information about influenza strains with pandemic potential with the WHO, and industries will make annual donations through the agreement's contribution mechanism.

"We have a unique opportunity to strengthen capacities at the national level and achieve well-functioning and sustainable systems so that we can better detect, assess and respond to emerging viruses," Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO regional director for Europe, said.

The 35 participants in the three-day meeting in Geneva included representatives from the four European countries to benefit from the PIP framework, surveillance and laboratory experts and staff from WHO country offices and WHO/Europe. The attendees were briefed about the agreement and its objectives.

Experts from the four participating European countries also worked with WHO staff to develop detailed plans for implanting the PIP Framework. The first PIP missions to improve the countries' surveillance systems are set to begin within the next few months.