WHO takes steps to protect staff from flu pandemic - 18/8/2005

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WHO takes steps to protect staff from flu pandemic

Avian influenza viruses (gold)
18 August 2005

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on its offices worldwide to stockpile drugs to protect at least one-third of staff and their families from a potential bird flu pandemic. The call comes after news that the bird flu virus H5N1 has spread from South-East Asia to Kazakhstan and Russia.

According to an internal document which has been obtained by Nature, the WHO suggests that its offices reserve enough doses of the flu drug oseltamivir to treat 8,000 employees. Its headquarters in Geneva is starting by stocking enough to treat 1,000. Because the value of the drugs would rise steeply during a pandemic, WHO regional offices are being advised to store them securely.

The WHO also advises their offices to stockpile medical equipment such as syringes, antibiotics and face-masks, and is giving advice on how to convert large areas, such as gymnasiums, into temporary wards.

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