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Handling of the H1N1 pandemic: more transparency needed

Recommendation 1929 (2010)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 24 June 2010 (26th Sitting) (see Doc. 12283, report of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr Flynn). Text adopted by the Assembly on 24 June 2010 (26th Sitting).
1. Referring to its Resolution 1749 (2010) on the handling of the H1N1 pandemic: more transparency needed, the Parliamentary Assembly notes that there is an urgent need for a thorough review of recent decisions taken by public health authorities at international, European and national level in the framework of the H1N1 influenza pandemic, given that a lack of transparency in public decisions undermines democratic principles and good governance.
2. At a time when the current H1N1 pandemic is reaching its final phase, notably in Europe, and when internal review processes of its handling have just begun within the World Health Organization (WHO), European institutions and national governments, the Assembly urges all authorities involved to recognise the shortcomings identified by the Assembly and to implement the measures recommended in its Resolution 1749 (2010).
3. The Assembly considers that only a comprehensive and transparent review of decisions and decision-making processes related to the H1N1 pandemic and the subsequent reorientation of public health policies and governance systems will ensure that public confidence in major public health institutions is rebuilt and that European governments and citizens will follow their advice in future situations involving substantial risks to public health.
4. The Assembly considers that the issue of good governance in the health sector should be one of the priorities of the intergovernmental activities at the Council of Europe, given the importance of democratic accountability and transparency in public health decision making. The Assembly therefore welcomes the recent adoption of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on good governance in health systems and the follow-up activities planned with a view to its implementation. It supports the setting-up of an expert committee, under the European Health Committee (CDSP), to evaluate and monitor the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)6.
5. The Assembly moreover calls on the Committee of Ministers to:
5.1 instruct the CDSP and related bodies to:
5.1.1 take into account Resolution 1749 (2010) of the Assembly when it comes to defining the work programme and the indicators to be followed in monitoring processes related to good governance in the public health sector;
5.1.2 not only “monitor and evaluate”, but also promote good governance of health systems in all Council of Europe member states through appropriate complementary working methods, such as assistance programmes or best practice exchanges, wherever this is considered useful;
5.1.3 launch a parallel work process towards the preparation of a Council of Europe code of good governance, taking into account the threats to good and democratic governance identified during the H1N1 crisis, as well as the lessons learned from it;
5.2 encourage member states to actively participate in these Council of Europe activities and to promote Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)6 with a view to its rapid implementation at national level and its consideration when it comes to national review processes concerning the handling of the H1N1 pandemic;
5.3 closely observe future debates to be held on good governance in the health sector within the Assembly and take into consideration the outcomes of such debates for the orientation of the intergovernmental work at Council of Europe level.