WHO meeting explores H5N1 treatment issues

Mar 19, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Health experts gathered today at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference in southern Turkey to discuss findings in patients who have H5N1 infections and identify areas for future research on treatment, according to news services.

The meeting, a follow-up to one held in Hanoi in 2005, is intended to seek support from doctors for a proposed WHO system for collecting data on H5N1 cases, Canadian Press (CP) reported. Doctors would be asked to submit standardized clinical information on their patients who have H5N1 infections, which would allow the WHO to track disease patterns and treatment efficacy, the report said.

"This will give us, I think, the best available opportunity under the current circumstances to make sense out of what's happening," Frederick Hayden, MD, a WHO influenza expert, told CP.

Some health experts who attended the meeting said they supported Indonesia's stance on withholding H5N1 samples until it receives assurance that it and other developing nations will have access to pandemic flu vaccines, according to a Reuters report.

Menno de Jong, a virologist at an Oxford University clinical research unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, told Reuters that though sharing viruses is vital to improving diagnostics, clinical care, and vaccine development, vaccine sharing is also important. "I think the point is well taken from the Indonesia experience that there should be some guarantees for countries affected by H5N1 that they will also share in the vaccines produced," de Jong told Reuters.

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