Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Challenges for pandemic preparedness in developing countries

The Communications Intiaitive has done a nice summary of the recent paper from the CDC on challenges to preparedness in developing countries. Improving the planning process and developing feasible mitigation strategies are two things we're very concerned with in the CORE and H2P projects on pandemic preparedness. The highlights below:

"Improving Planning Processes
To minimise the impact of an influenza pandemic, good preparedness plans need to be developed. With the increasing risk for a pandemic caused by the spread of avian influenza A virus (H5N1), most countries have started such planning. ...[T]he approaches used by industrialised countries may not be feasible or appropriate for developing countries. Feasible, user-friendly tools are needed to assist these countries. [The World Health Organization] WHO has developed several such tools, including a checklist for national preparedness. However, these tools describe the general approaches to pandemic preparedness and are not specifically designed for countries with limited resources. For developing countries more practical tools are needed, among them models to estimate the impact of a pandemic in developing countries, a list of feasible interventions to mitigate the impact of pandemic without available pharmaceutical interventions, and planning guidelines for hospitals with limited resources.

Increasing Availability of Antiviral Agents and Vaccines
If the next pandemic occurs in a few years, vaccines and antiviral agents, particularly neuraminidase inhibitors, may not be available as a main intervention in developing countries. Availability needs to be increased to fill the gaps between developed and industrialized countries.

Providing Better Medical Care
Several issues need to be addressed to provide adequate medical care during a pandemic. First, essential medical supplies such as masks, gloves, and antimicrobial agents should be available in hospitals and clinics. Second, healthcare personnel should be trained for infection control measures. Third, healthcare and public health systems need to be maintained to minimize the impact of a pandemic.

Developing Feasible Mitigation Strategies
More feasible and effective strategies should be developed as soon as possible to mitigate the negative impact of an influenza pandemic in developing countries. Since the availability of pharmaceutical interventions in developing countries is less likely, nonpharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing and personal hygiene may be the only available interventions.

Strengthening Core Capacities
Improving pandemic preparedness without establishing a proper national program for seasonal influenza is unrealistic. For example, increasing the availability of pandemic vaccines without increasing the use of vaccines for seasonal influenza is difficult. It is also difficult to implement infection control measures in hospitals and personal hygiene during a pandemic if they are not routinely implemented for seasonal influenza and other infections."

For the Communications Initiative Summary and link to the full article:

1 comment:

AZReam said...

"essential medical supplies such as masks, gloves, and antimicrobial agents should be available in hospitals and clinics"

- we believe this should not be limited to developing countries, there is a widespread belief that the developed nations are already well prepared, but this is not the case.