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WHO processes on dealing with a pandemic need to be overhauled and made more transparent

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 31 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3378
  1. John Zarocostas

A1 Geneva

The World Health Organization failed to manage possible conflicts of interests between its expert advisers and industry in handling the H1N1 flu pandemic, an independent review panel has found.

The review, chaired by Harvey Fineberg, president of the US Institute of Medicine, concluded procedures were inadequate, should be overhauled, and made more transparent.

The panel found no evidence of “attempted or actual influence” by commercial interests on advice or decisions taken by the WHO concerning the pandemic. But WHO failed to acknowledge legitimate reasons for some criticism, in particular, inconsistent descriptions of a pandemic that “may have inadvertently contributed to confusion and suspicion.”

An investigation published last year by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BMJ 2010;340:c2912, doi:10.1136/bmj.c2912) found that key scientists advising the WHO on planning for an influenza …

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