April 12, 2010 / 8:32 AM / in 8 years

Experts open review of WHO response to swine flu

* WHO opens three-day expert review meeting on swine flu

* Director-General Chan says review should be independent

GENEVA, April 12 (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday it welcomed a frank and critical review of its handling of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic to help draw lessons for future public health emergencies.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the three-day review by 29 external experts, which opened on Monday morning in Geneva, should be “independent, credible and transparent”. “We want to know what worked well. We want to know what went wrong and, ideally, why. We want to know what can be done better and, ideally, how,” Chan told the session.

Critics have said that the WHO created panic about the new flu virus, which turned out to be moderate in its effect, and caused governments to stockpile vaccines which went unused.

The first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years, which erupted almost exactly a year ago, is known to have killed at least 17,700 people in more than 200 countries, according to data from the WHO, the United Nations health agency. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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