A global influenza pandemic high on the WHO's agenda

Another influenza pandemic is on the third spot of the list of 10 health threats collated by the World Health Organization for 2019.

Image Credit: Andreas Prott / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Andreas Prott / Shutterstock

The WHO has come up with a list to address these 10 threats. This year 2019 is slated to be the start of the five-year plan from the organization to tackle these threats. The 5 year strategic plan is called the 13th General Programme of Work or the 13th GPW. IT plants to achieve these targets on the basis of the devised Sustainable Development goals (SDG).

According to the WHO report, an influenza pandemic is a major threat for the world. The report suggests that the global defences against such a pandemic are only as strong as the weakest preparedness of a nation. The country affected needs to have a strong surveillance and reporting system and also an appropriate response strategy in place to contain the infection and prevent its spread to other nations.

At present the WHO monitoring system is on the lookout around the world from 153 institutions in 114 countries. This is part of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) that is looking for potential for pandemic strains to spread and prevent such spread. Each year the WHO recommends certain flu strains to be included in the flu vaccine to protect the populations from seasonal flu. If there is a potential for a pandemic strain to spread across populations, the WHO partners with the major stakeholders and policy makers to ensure that there is an adequate and appropriate supply of diagnostic tools, vaccines and treatments including antivirals. Extra care is taken for developing nations and nations that are under-prepared to help stop the spread of the infection.

The WHO speaking on its report on the 10 threats, in a news release said, “The world will face another influenza pandemic — the only thing we don't know is when it will hit and how severe it will be. Global defenses are only as effective as the weakest link in any country's health emergency preparedness and response system.”

The WHO’s Global Influenza Programme (GIP) provides worldwide surveillance against influenza and in addition the GIP also collects and analyzes data on epidemiology and viral strains of influenza. The WHO shares this information with all nations so that policy makers of different nations can up their preparedness against influenza and prevent influenza transmission. This sharing of information also helps the nations identify high risk groups and prevent their infections, transmissions and impact on their health. Information sharing is also vital for vaccine development and production.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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