The world is more prepared to tackle an influenza pandemic now than 10 years ago. The World Health Organization warns a global influenza pandemic remains a real threat despite progress made over the past 10 years in increasing the worldwide supply of flu vaccines. Back in 2006, the World Health Organization acknowledged that countries around the world were ill-prepared to tackle an influenza pandemic. At the time, there were concerns about an H5N1 bird flu pandemic. In response, the WHO launched the Global Action Plan for influenza vaccines. The initiative has now ended. Since 2006, global production capacity for pandemic vaccines increased from an estimated 1.5 billion doses to 6.2 billion doses last year. Marie-Paule Kieny is the WHO's assistant director-general for health systems and innovation. She says the world has come a long way in preparing for a flu pandemic over the past 10 years. In 2006, she notes, only rich countries were producing vaccines. Today, she says 14 mostly upper middle income countries are making strides toward manufacturing their own vaccines. “We are certainly better prepared for an influenza pandemic than we were 10 years ago; but, we must not lose the momentum and we are still facing the threat of an influenza pandemic in 2016,” said Kieny. Since 2006, Kieny says the number of countries with a national influenza immunization policy has grown from 74 to 115. William Ampofo, professor at the University of Ghana, is an advisory group member of the GAP or Global Action Plan. He tells VOA the creation of the GAP has not resulted in increased vaccine production capacity on the African continent. “As part of the GAP, technology transfer was provided for developing countries and South Africa and Egypt were part of this initiative,” said Ampofo. "Unfortunately, the tech transfer has not resulted in influenza vaccine production capacity as of now.” The flu season in the Northern Hemisphere is set to start in December, peak in late January or early February and run its course by April or May. The World Health Organization estimates that every year, there are between 3- and 5 million forensic cases of influenza resulting in 150,000 to 500,000 deaths.