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WHO consultation on priority public health interventions before and during an influenza pandemic

by 5m Editor
15 March 2004, at 12:00am

GENEVA - The recent avian influenza outbreaks in Asia serve as stark reminders that another influenza pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent.

WHO consultation on priority public health interventions before and during an influenza pandemic - GENEVA - The recent avian influenza outbreaks in Asia serve as stark reminders that another influenza pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent.

Geneva, 16-18 March 2004

Epidemiological models project that an influenza pandemic will be responsible for major disease burden and significant economic costs both in developed and developing countries. The impact in poor countries is likely to be greatest, due to limited health care resources and poor health and nutritional status of the population. Clearly, the most important immediate intervention is to contain as rapidly as possible the current avian influenza emergency, thereby reducing the likelihood of the emergence and spread of a new pandemic virus.

Implementing measures for the containment of the spread of an influenza pandemic virus and reducing its burden on the population will require time and a major coordinated global effort. During the initial phase of an influenza outbreak with pandemic potential, efficient surveillance, focused and timely public health measures may slow down the national and international spread of the virus, thereby buying precious time for global pandemic response measures to be implemented.

In this context, WHO, in collaboration with national and international partners, will hold a global consultation on priority public health interventions before and during the early stage of an influenza pandemic. The consultation will bring together experts from all regions on influenza, public health, health economics, health policy, hospital management, drugs and pharmaceuticals, infection control measures, disease surveillance and modelling and risk communication. It will have the following objectives:

  • Review the global response to the current avian influenza outbreak in Asia;

  • Review issues on influenza vaccine use and availability before and during influenza pandemics and identify priority actions by various stakeholders to increase access;

  • Review issues on antiviral use and availability before and during influenza pandemics and identify priority actions by various stakeholders to increase access;

  • Review the possible impact and feasibility of implementing national and international public health interventions, including travel recommendations, to slow down the spread of pandemic influenza viruses;

  • Review issues related to surveillance of human influenza before and during pandemics, including monitoring of strains in human cases and early detection of changes in influenza subtypes.

The consultation is expected to identify practical measures and interventions to be implemented at national and global levels both before and during the early stage of a pandemic. These would include interventions aimed at appropriate access and use of vaccine and antivirals, sound public health measures that may slow down the spread of the pandemic virus and reduce its impact on the population, and surveillance strategies that would rapidly detect a new pandemic virus and monitor its spread.

Source: World Health Organization - 15th March 2004

5m Editor