Regional Director addresses European Parliament inquiry on pandemic (H1N1) 2009

Today, Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, addressed the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament. Ms Jakab took part in the inquiry on pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in her capacity as founding Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) from March 2005 to January 2010.

Ms Jakab praised the work of public health experts around the world, who “worked together with great professionalism to understand the new virus and the threat it posed, as well as to fill the gaps in science and our knowledge”.

Noting that ECDC acted in an appropriate, responsible and transparent manner during the pandemic, Ms Jakab also explained that lessons could be learned. Decisions had been made using the information available, but not only the severity of the pandemic but also the reactions of politicians, the mass media and the public had been uncertain. Zsuzsanna Jakab therefore recommended that the parameters used for a pandemic be reviewed, greater flexibility be built into preparedness plans, the risks and benefits be more rigorously assessed and greater attention be paid to risk communication.