Expertise in terms of knowledge about and preparation for a flu epidemic or pandemic in Europe is not only concentrated in the hands of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) but is also to be found in the Commission, the World Health Organisation (WHO — Europe section), other EU and UN bodies and among scientists from a number of disciplines. Coordination and cooperation between these organisations and experts is currently inadequate (cf. FAO/OIE/WB/WHO meeting on avian influenza and human pandemic influenza, Geneva, Switzerland, 9 November 2005, Closing remarks; cf. Second European Influenza Conference, 11‑14 September 2005, Malta, closing remarks), particularly as regards the areas of animal health and public health.
The H5N1 virus has been found in populations of wild birds in a number of European countries. A highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) outbreak among domestic poultry in France, and also elsewhere, makes the risk of the development of a new pandemic human strain of this type A flu very real.
It must also be pointed out that the level and quality of preparations for a flu pandemic varies considerably from one Member State to another (cf. Pandemic influenza preparedness planning, joint WHO/European Commission workshop, Luxembourg, 2–3 March 2005, Conclusions § 2-3).
How does the Commission intend to encourage better coordination and cooperation between all flu‑related sectors and parties concerned?
How does the Commission intend to make the combined expertise acquired in this way easily accessible to individual Member States?