- CTV Winnipeg -
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a news briefing Tuesday that the United Nations health agency would conduct the review after the pandemic has subsided.
She said the review would involve independent outside experts and the results would be made public.
"Criticism is part of an outbreak cycle. We expect and indeed welcome criticism and the chance to discuss it," she said.
"Evaluation is necessary and we are open to recommendations that can improve our work, when this is over WHO will undoubtedly work with outside experts."
But another WHO spokesperson said that it would take "several seasons" to determine that the pandemic was over, thus allowing the review to begin.
"We can't say a pandemic is over until we have seen that it hasn't come back," flu spokeswoman Nyka Alexander explained.
When the review does get underway, it will also look at whether pressure from pharmaceutical companies influenced the WHO's take on the virus.
That comes as the Council of Europe, a political forum of many European countries, announced it would look into whether drug companies influenced public health officials to spend money unnecessarily on H1N1 vaccines.
In response to such complaints, Chaib said the WHO took its work of providing independent advice to its 193 member nations seriously, and strove to guard against the influence of outside interests.
Member nations will have an opportunity to question the WHO about its handling of H1N1 at the annual meeting of its 34-member board next week, on Jan 18. The WHO's top flu expert, Keiji Fukuda, will brief the board about the latest developments in the pandemic.
The WHO said its concern for now is that developing countries still lack adequate access to both antiviral medications and vaccines. That's despite donations from industrialized countries and drug makers.
"Significant progress in international solidarity has been achieved, through donations by developed countries and manufacturers, but overall access to antiviral medicines and vaccines in developing countries remains limited," it said.
The WHO said last week that southern hemisphere countries struck by H1N1 last year are now broadly protected against new infections, and sickness levels are declining in much of the northern hemisphere.
H1N1 made its way into more than 200 countries after it was discovered in Mexico and the southern U.S. last April -- an uncommonly fast spread for a new virus.
According to lab-confirmed cases, the strain has killed at least 12,799 people. But the real toll is thought to be much higher because of under-reporting, particularly in developing nations.
The final death toll figures could take several years to establish, the WHO says.