Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-06-13-Speech-2-153"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the report we are to vote on concerns pandemic influenza preparedness and response planning in the European Community, an issue on the topical nature and importance of which the majority of us are in agreement. I think this was also the main reason why no amendments were tabled in plenary. Finally, I should like to point out that I supported most of the amendments tabled by my honourable friends following discussion of my report in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. In particular, I must stress that the amendment on the prevention of panic among the public, on combating any trafficking which could arise if there were genuinely serious risks and on ensuring the fair distribution of products for use in combating the epidemic, the amendment on the constant upgrading of the Member States' preparedness plans and the amendments relating to the acquisition of adequate protective equipment and the Commission's preparedness to adopt crisis measures such as quarantine and disinfection measures in aeroplanes are amendments which help to make the report an integral report. I should like once again to thank the committee secretariat for its valuable help with my report and all my associates. Thank you once again. Having said which, I should like first of all to thank all the rapporteurs of all the political groups for their important comments and valuable help and all my honourable friends for the amendments which they tabled during discussions of my report in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. Having said which, I have tried to bring this report to a conclusion in close cooperation with the European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the European office of the World Health Organisation and various other national health departments, including the health department in my country, Cyprus. At the same time, I have received in this endeavour suggestions from non-governmental organisations, from specialists in pandemics and even from the vaccine industry. I should like to make a point of thanking them all for their help. I shall try to be as brief and succinct as possible. There are five important points which I would like to expound: efforts to intensify coordination, the existence of 'flu vaccines and anti-viral drugs, information, transparency and public awareness, financing and financial aid for countries that need it. The fact cannot be overlooked that there is a strong need to tighten and intensify coordination between the Member States and the Commission and this is also the reason why coordination plays such an important role in the report. The Commission and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are already doing an extremely important job by testing existing national pandemic prevention plans and carrying out exercises. Nonetheless, these exercises also need to take place in regional areas, while at the same time emphasising cross-border cooperation. As far as anti-viral drugs are concerned, plans to acquire them and the way in which they are used does not appear to be satisfactory enough. However, according to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products, more action needs to be taken in order to strengthen such programming. Furthermore, research and development need to be promoted, so that the vaccines in question can be supplied as quickly as possible and, once that happens, so that their equal and fair distribution can be safeguarded. Information, transparency and public awareness are fundamental and will facilitate the work of the Member States and the Commission in warding off a possible pandemic. With regard to the African and Asia countries, which are also considered to be the countries with the greatest need, we must ensure that they are provided with technical, economic and financial help. At this point I should perhaps stress that the Commission has already managed to achieve a great deal in this direction and I trust that it will continue in the same vein. Satisfactory appropriations must also be made available so as to maximize public awareness, so that European citizens can obtain more information, so that research and development can be developed in the ultimate aim of creating anti-viral drugs, of giving the Commission the opportunity to create a Community stock of anti-virals and, of course, of giving third countries the economic and technical assistance they need. Of equal importance with these points is the protection of small and medium-sized poultry units, which have sustained a serious blow from avian influenza, and the proper application of the provisions of Community law relating to safety in the workplace, especially for high-risk groups consisting of workers in close and constant contact with birds."@en1

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