Health has gained importance on the global agenda. It has become recognized in forums where it was once not addressed. In this article three issues are considered: global health policy actors, global health priorities and the means of addressing the identified health priorities. I argue that the arenas for global health policy-making have shifted from the public spheres towards arenas that include the transnational for-profit sector. Global health policy has become increasingly fragmented and verticalized. Infectious diseases have gained ground as global health priorities, while non-communicable diseases and the broader issues of health systems development have been neglected. Approaches to tackling the health problems are increasingly influenced by trade and industrial interests with the emphasis on technological solutions.
Ethics is a discipline, which primarily deals with what is moral and immoral behavior. Public Health Ethics is translation of ethical theories and concepts into practice to address complex multidimensional public health problems. The primary purpose of this paper was to conduct a narrative literature review-addressing role of ethics in developing curriculum in programs and schools of public health, ethics-related instruction in schools and programs of public health and the role of ethics in developing a competent public health workforce.
An open search of various health databases including Google scholar and Ebscohost yielded 15 articles related to use of ethics in public health practice or public health training and the salient features were reported.
Results indicated a variable amount of ethics’ related training in schools and programs of public health along with public health practitioner training across the nation. Bioethics, medical ethics and public health ethics were found to be subspecialties’ needing separate ethical frameworks to guide decision making.
Ethics based curricular and non-curricular training for emerging public health professionals from schools and programs of public health in the United States is extremely essential. In the current age of public health challenges faced in the United States and globally, to have an ethically untrained public health force is arguably, immoral and unethical and jeopardizes population health. There is an urgent need to develop innovative ethic based curriculums in academia as well as finding effective means to translate these curricular competencies into public health practice.
Ethics; Public health Ethics; Competencies; Public health workforce; USA
Addressing the global prevalence of chronic and unrelieved pain, especially in developing countries, requires heightened awareness (particularly to the socioeconomic burden of pain), enhanced pain education, improvements to pain care and increases to pain research resources. This article begins with a brief overview of recent advances in pain research and management, and subsequently identifies several opportunities and approaches to confront the global epidemic of chronic pain and its related issues, acknowledging that the variability among countries in health care policies, programs and resources will require specific tailoring to each country’s socioeconomic and educational situation.
Despite many recent advances in the past 40 years in the understanding of pain mechanisms, and in pain diagnosis and management, considerable gaps in knowledge remain, with chronic pain present in epidemic proportions in most countries. It is often unrelieved and is associated with significant socioeconomic burdens. Several opportunities and approaches to address this crisis are identified in the present article. Most crucial is the need to increase pain awareness, enhance pain education, improve access to pain care and increase pain research resources. Given the variability among countries in health care policies and programs, resources and educational programs, many of the approaches and strategies outlined will need to be tailored to each country’s socioeconomic and educational situation.
Access; Awareness; Education; Pain; Research
Physical activity has been identified as a public health priority. In response, training and professional development opportunities have been created to increase the capacity of public health practitioners to address this issue. Currently, training resources are primarily reaching national- and state-level professionals. Local-level physical activity and public health practitioners can also benefit from these resources. The Move More Scholars Institute, a 4-day training course for community-based physical activity practitioners in North Carolina, was developed for local practitioners. This article will describe the planning of, implementation of, and initial response to the Move More Scholars Institute.
Air pollution is a global health issue with serious public health implications, particularly for children. Usually respiratory effects of air pollutants are considered, but this review highlights the importance of non-respiratory health hazards. In addition to short-term effects, exposure to criteria air pollutants from early life might be associated with low birth weight, increase in oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction, which in turn might have long-term effects on chronic non-communicable diseases. In view of the emerging epidemic of chronic disease in low- and middle- income countries, the vicious cycle of rapid urbanization and increasing levels of air pollution, public health and regulatory policies for air quality protection should be integrated into the main priorities of the primary health care system and into the educational curriculum of health professionals.
air pollution; children; health; prevention; chronic disease; public health
We describe fundamental weaknesses in U.S. chemicals policy, present principles of chemicals policy reform, and articulate interdisciplinary research questions that should be addressed. With global chemical production projected to double over the next 24 years, federal policies that shape the priorities of the U.S. chemical enterprise will be a cornerstone of sustainability. To date, these policies have largely failed to adequately protect public health or the environment or motivate investment in or scientific exploration of cleaner chemical technologies, known collectively as green chemistry. On this trajectory, the United States will face growing health, environmental, and economic problems related to chemical exposures and pollution.
Existing policies have produced a U.S. chemicals market in which the safety of chemicals for human health and the environment is undervalued relative to chemical function, price, and performance. This market barrier to green chemistry is primarily a consequence of weaknesses in the Toxic Substances Control Act. These weaknesses have produced a chemical data gap, because producers are not required to investigate and disclose sufficient information on chemicals’ hazard traits to government, businesses that use chemicals, or the public; a safety gap, because government lacks the legal tools it needs to efficiently identify, prioritize, and take action to mitigate the potential health and environmental effects of hazardous chemicals; and a technology gap, because industry and government have invested only marginally in green chemistry research, development, and education. Policy reforms that close the three gaps—creating transparency and accountability in the market—are crucial for improving public and environmental health and reducing the barriers to green chemistry. The European Union’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation has opened an opportunity for the United States to take this step; doing so will present the nation with new research questions in science, policy, law, and technology.
chemicals policy; data gap; environmental health; green chemistry; innovation; REACH; safety gap; sustainability; technology gap; TSCA
As of 2010 sub-Saharan Africa had approximately 865 million inhabitants living with numerous public health challenges. Several public health initiatives [e.g., the United States (US) President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the US President's Malaria Initiative] have been very successful at reducing mortality from priority diseases. A competently trained public health workforce that can operate multi-disease surveillance and response systems is necessary to build upon and sustain these successes and to address other public health problems. Sub-Saharan Africa appears to have weathered the recent global economic downturn remarkably well and its increasing middle class may soon demand stronger public health systems to protect communities. The Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been the backbone of public health surveillance and response in the US during its 60 years of existence. EIS has been adapted internationally to create the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in several countries. In the 1990s CDC and the Rockefeller Foundation collaborated with the Uganda and Zimbabwe ministries of health and local universities to create 2-year Public Health Schools Without Walls (PHSWOWs) which were based on the FETP model. In 2004 the FETP model was further adapted to create the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) in Kenya to conduct joint competency-based training for field epidemiologists and public health laboratory scientists providing a master's degree to participants upon completion. The FELTP model has been implemented in several additional countries in sub-Saharan Africa. By the end of 2010 these 10 FELTPs and two PHSWOWs covered 613 million of the 865 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and had enrolled 743 public health professionals. We describe the process that we used to develop 10 FELTPs covering 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa from 2004 to 2010 as a strategy to develop a locally trained public health workforce that can operate multi-disease surveillance and response systems.
Field epidemiology; laboratory management; multi-disease surveillance and response systems; public health workforce capacity building
Cancer is an increasing problem for low- and middle-income countries undergoing an epidemiologic transition from dominantly acute communicable disease to more frequent chronic disease with increased public health successes in the former domain. Progress against cancer in high-income countries has been modest and has come at enormous expense. There are several well-conceived global policy and planning initiatives which, with adequate political will, can favorably impact the growing global cancer challenges. Most financial resources for cancer, however, are spent on diagnosis and management of patients with disease in circumstances where specific knowledge about effective approaches is significantly limited, and the majority of interventions, other than surgery, are not cost-effective in resource-limited countries by global standards. In summary, how to intervene effectively on a global scale for the majority of citizens who develop cancer is poorly defined. In contrast to technology-transfer approaches, markedly increased clinical research activities are more likely to benefit cancer sufferers. In these contexts, a global cancer research initiative is proposed, and mechanisms for realizing such an effort are suggested.
breast cancer; research; global; international; low-income; middle-income
With the growing public health concern over rising rates of opioid abuse, physicians have a responsibility to incorporate safeguards into their practice to minimize the potential for opioid misuse, abuse, and diversion. Patient-specific treatment regimens should include steps to monitor treatment success with regard to optimal pain management as well as inappropriate use of opioids and other substances. Opioid formulations designed to be less attractive for abuse are also being developed. While future studies are needed to determine the impact of such formulations in addressing the issue of opioid misuse in the community as a whole, the experience of practitioners who have utilized these formulations can highlight the practical steps to incorporate such formulations into the everyday patient-care setting.
The purpose of this report is to describe experience in managing patients with chronic, moderate-to-severe pain using morphine sulfate and naltrexone hydrochloride extended release capsules (MS-sNT) (EMBEDA®, King Pharmaceuticals® Inc, Bristol, TN, which was acquired by Pfizer Inc, New York, NY, in March 2011), a formulation designed with features to deter abuse/misuse, in a community-based pain management clinic.
Case reports demonstrating a clinical management plan for assessment, initial interview procedures, explanation/discussion of proposed therapies, patients’ treatment goals, conversion to MS-sNT, and titration and treatment outcomes are provided.
The management approach yielded successful outcomes including pain relief, improved quality of life, treatment satisfaction, and patient acceptance of a formulation designed to deter abuse/misuse.
The cases presented demonstrate that the communication accompanying complete pretreatment assessment, goal-setting and expectations, and attention to individual patient needs can enable optimization of pain-related outcomes, resulting in improved quality of life for patients and fostering patient acceptance of formulations designed to help address opioid abuse/misuse issues in the community at large.
morphine abuse; universal precautions; drug abuse; pain management
Chronic pain is a major health problem associated with significant costs to both afflicted individuals and society as a whole. These costs seem to be disproportionately borne by women, who generally have higher prevalence rates for chronic pain than do men.
Data obtained from 125,574 respondents to the Canadian Community Health Survey (2000–2001) indicated that 18% of Canadian women suffered from chronic pain, compared to 14% of men. This gender discrepancy, however, seemed to be linked primarily to differences in age, income, and education between adult men and women in this large sample. Age, income, depression and functional interference with activities were strongly associated with chronic pain in general. No gender differences were found in the intensity of pain experienced. Ethnicity was not strongly associated with chronic pain prevalence, although Asians were the group with the highest chronic pain prevalence in the over-65 age group and Aboriginal Canadians had the highest prevalence in the under-65 age group.
Data Gaps and Recommendations
Current gaps in our knowledge include the types of chronic pain women experience, their impact on domestic responsibilities and parenting and health care utilization patterns of women with chronic pain. Data sources such as provincial databases of billing claims may be useful in the future to enrich our knowledge of health care utilization and analgesic medication use. Enhanced surveillance, assessment, and early identification of pain disorders are recommended to improve outcomes. Considering current demographic patterns toward an older population, there is also some urgency to the development of patient education and self-management programs.
The lack of a mechanism that aligns financial flows for global health research towards public health priorities limits the impact of health research on health and health equity. Collaborative groups of health research funders appear to be particularly well situated to ameliorate this situation and to initiate discussion on aid alignment for global health research. One such group is the Heads of International Research Organizations (HIROs), which brings together a large number of major government and philanthropic funders of biomedical research. Surprisingly, there is hardly any information publicly available on HIROs' objectives, or on how it aims to achieve more harmonization in the field of research for health. Greater transparency on HIROs' objectives and on its current efforts towards addressing the gap between global health research needs and investments would be desirable, given the enormous potential benefits of more coordination by this group.
Over the past two decades, international health policies focusing on the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and those diseases that address maternal and child health problems, among others, have skewed disease control priorities in China and other Asian countries. Although these are important health problems, an epidemic of chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in China has accounted for a much greater burden of disease due to the ongoing rapid socioeconomic and demographic transition.
Although NCDs currently account for more than 80% of the overall disease burden in China, they remain very low on the nation’s disease control priorities, attracting marginal investment from central and local governments. This leaves the majority of patients with chronic conditions without effective treatment. International organizations and national governments have recognized the devastating social and economic consequences caused by NCDs in low- and middle-income countries, including China. Yet, few donor-funded projects that address NCDs have been implemented in these countries over the past decade. Due to a lack of strong support from international organizations and national governments for fighting against NCDs, affected persons in China, especially the poor and those who live in rural and less developed regions, continue to have limited access to the needed care. Costs associated with frequent health facility visits and regular treatment have become a major factor in medical impoverishment in China. This article argues that although China's ongoing health system reform would provide a unique opportunity to tackle current public health problems, it may not be sufficient to address the emerging threat of NCDs unless targeted steps are taken to assure that adequate financial and human resources are mapped for effective control and management of NCDs in the country.
The Chinese government needs to develop a domestically-driven and evidence-based disease control policy and funding priorities that respond appropriately to the country’s current epidemiological transition, and rapid sociodemographic and lifestyle changes.
Non-communicable diseases; Infectious diseases; Evidence-based public health interventions; Health system reform; China
Despite the recent rapid development of policies to counteract physical inactivity (PI), only a small number of systematic analyses on the evolution of these policies exists. In this article we analyze how PI, as a public health issue, “translates” into a policy-making issue. First, we discuss why PI has become an increasingly important public health issue during the last two decades. We then follow Guy Peters and conceptualize PI as a “policy problem” that has the potential to be linked to policy instruments and policy impact. Analysis indicates that PI is a policy problem that i) is chronic in nature; ii) involves a high degree of political complexity; iii) can be disaggregated into smaller scales; iv) is addressed through interventions that can be difficult to “sell” to the public when their benefits are not highly divisible; v) cannot be solved by government spending alone; vi) must be addressed through a broad scope of activities; and vii) involves interdependencies among both multiple sectors and levels of government.
We conclude that the new perspective on PI proposed in this article might be useful and important for i) describing and mapping policies to counteract PI in different contexts; ii) evaluating whether or not existing policy instruments are appropriate to the policy problem of PI, and iii) explaining the factors and processes that underlie policy development and implementation. More research is warranted in all these areas. In particular, we propose to focus on comparative analyses of how the problem of PI is defined and tackled in different contexts, and on the identification of truly effective policy instruments that are designed to “solve” the PI policy problem.
Context analysis; Health promotion; Physical activity; Policy problem; Policy process; Public health
ISSUE: Inadequate pain management is a serious public health problem that affects a wide cross-section of Americans. Patients are often denied sufficient medication, because physicians lack training and fear scrutiny from federal and state regulatory agencies. In addition, even the state-financed system of care, Medicaid, has been increasingly denying payment for the best treatment for pain management. These factors are complicated by physician bias about various subgroups and poor physician-patient communication. Comprehensive patient assessment plays a crucial role in determining appropriate treatment and identifying potential abuse problems. Physicians must routinely document medications analgesic effects and screen for potential ill effects and drug abuse. OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence of the undertreatment of pain, particularly among African Americans, and to recommend relevant proactive policy and practice changes to aid in eliminating this health problem. CONSENSUS PROCESS: In July 2002, the NMA convened the "Managing Pain: The Challenge in Underserved Populations: Appropriate Use versus Abuse and Diversion" Consensus Meeting in Washington, DC. The country's most renowned experts in the area of pain management and substance abuse reviewed substantial information regarding pain management and substance abuse including the following: --A draft summary paper on pain management and substance abuse that served as briefing material for consensus members; --Annotated bibliographies; --Articles on pain management and substance abuse; and --Key presentations on pain management and substance abuse.
Chronic pain is a global public health problem, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are not fully understood. Here we examine genome-wide DNA methylation, first in 50 identical twins discordant for heat pain sensitivity and then in 50 further unrelated individuals. Whole-blood DNA methylation was characterized at 5.2 million loci by MeDIP sequencing and assessed longitudinally to identify differentially methylated regions associated with high or low pain sensitivity (pain DMRs). Nine meta-analysis pain DMRs show robust evidence for association (false discovery rate 5%) with the strongest signal in the pain gene TRPA1 (P=1.2 × 10−13). Several pain DMRs show longitudinal stability consistent with susceptibility effects, have similar methylation levels in the brain and altered expression in the skin. Our approach identifies epigenetic changes in both novel and established candidate genes that provide molecular insights into pain and may generalize to other complex traits.
Genetically identical twins provide a valuable resource to identify epigenetic factors associated with complex traits. Here the authors adopt this approach and find that differential methylation of the pain gene TRPA1 is associated with pain sensitivity in humans.
Violence continues to grow as a priority for public health practitioners, particularly as its causes and consequences become better understood and the potential roles for public health are better articulated. This article provides the context to “Violence: a glossary (part 1)” published in the last issue of this journal, and updates some of the data, concepts and population approaches presented in the 2002 World report on violence and health. The paper addresses the following questions: What is the magnitude and global burden of injury from violence? What causes violence? Is resilience important? What is the role for public health? What are the key challenges and opportunities? We aim to engage the general reader and to increase understanding of violence as a potentially preventable issue.
violence; public health; prevention and control; intentional injury
Common low back pain represents a major public health problem in terms of its direct cost to health care and its socio-economic repercussions. Ten percent of individuals who suffer from low back pain evolve toward a chronic case and as such are responsible for 75 to 80% of the direct cost of low back pain. It is therefore imperative to highlight the predictive factors of low back pain chronification in order to lighten the economic burden of low back pain-related invalidity. Despite being particularly affected by low back pain, Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL) personnel have never been offered a specific, tailor-made treatment plan. The PRESLO study (with PRESLO referring to Secondary Low Back Pain Prevention, or in French, PREvention Secondaire de la LOmbalgie), proposed by HCL occupational health services and the Centre Médico-Chirurgical et de Réadaptation des Massues – Croix Rouge Française, is a randomized trial that aims to evaluate the feasibility and efficiency of a global secondary low back pain prevention program for the low back pain sufferers among HCL hospital personnel, a population at risk for recurrence and chronification. This program, which is based on the concept of physical retraining, employs a multidisciplinary approach uniting physical activity, cognitive education about low back pain and lumbopelvic morphotype analysis. No study targeting populations at risk for low back pain chronification has as yet evaluated the efficiency of lighter secondary prevention programs.
This study is a two-arm parallel randomized controlled trial proposed to all low back pain sufferers among HCL workers, included between October 2008 and July 2011 and followed over two years. The personnel following their usual treatment (control group) and those following the global prevention program in addition to their usual treatment (intervention group) are compared in terms of low back pain recurrence and the impairments measured at the beginning and the end of the study. The global prevention program is composed of a two-hour information session about low back pain and pain pathways, followed by five weekly 90-min exercise sessions with one physiotherapist per group of eight to ten personnel. A booklet for home use with patient-managed exercise instructions and information (The Back Book) is given to each participant at the end of the program.
An X-ray assessment of the entire spinal column of each participant (in both the control and intervention groups) is performed at the onset of the study in order to analyze sagittal spinopelvic balance as well as lombopelvic morphotype.
The results of this study, which is innovative and unique in France, will be available in 2014 and will make it possible to draw conclusions regarding the program’s impact on the risk of recurrence and chronification of low back pain.
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov # NCT00782925
This paper reviews the challenges facing the public health workforce in developing countries and the main policy issues that must be addressed in order to strengthen the public health workforce. The public health workforce is diverse and includes all those whose prime responsibility is the provision of core public health activities, irrespective of their organizational base. Although the public health workforce is central to the performance of health systems, very little is known about its composition, training or performance. The key policy question is: Should governments invest more in building and supporting the public health workforce and infrastructure to ensure the more effective functioning of health systems? Other questions concern: the nature of the public health workforce, including its size, composition, skills, training needs, current functions and performance; the appropriate roles of the workforce; and how the workforce can be strengthened to support new approaches to priority health problems.
The available evidence to shed light on these policy issues is limited. The World Health Organization is supporting the development of evidence to inform discussion on the best approaches to strengthening public health capacity in developing countries. WHO's priorities are to build an evidence base on the size and structure of the public health workforce, beginning with ongoing data collection activities, and to map the current public health training programmes in developing countries and in Central and Eastern Europe. Other steps will include developing a consensus on the desired functions and activities of the public health workforce and developing a framework and methods for assisting countries to assess and enhance the performance of public health training institutions and of the public health workforce.
Chronic pain is an escalating public health problem. There are inadequate resources to assist patients suffering with pain in Canada. Therefore, it is important that research examining novel and appropriate treatment for chronic pain is conducted. To determine the current level of research funding for pain in Canada, the Canadian Pain Society conducted a survey. Of 79 active researchers performing pain-related studies, 65 received funding in the past five years amounting to a total of approximately $80.9 million. This is less than 1% of the total funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and 0.25% of the total funding for health research.
Chronic pain; Economic burden; Research funding
The rise in obesity levels in the U.S. in the past several decades has been dramatic, with serious implications for public health and the economy. Experiences in tobacco control and other public health initiatives have shown that public policy may be a powerful tool to effect structural change to alter population-level behavior. In 2007, the National Cancer Institute convened a meeting to discuss priorities for a research agenda to inform obesity policy. Issues considered were how to define obesity policy research, key challenges and key partners in formulating/implementing an obesity policy research agenda, criteria by which to set research priorities, and specific research needs and questions. Themes that emerged were: (1) the embryonic nature of obesity policy research, (2) the need to study “natural experiments” resulting from policy-based efforts to address the obesity epidemic, (3) the importance of research focused beyond individual-level behavior change, (4) the need for economic research across several relevant policy areas, and (5) the overall urgency of taking action in the policy arena. Moving forward, timely evaluation of natural experiments is of especially high priority. A variety of policies intended to promote healthy weight in children and adults are being implemented in communities and at the state and national levels. Although some of these policies are supported by the findings of intervention research, additional research is needed to evaluate the implementation and quantify the impact of new policies designed to address obesity.
Asia has had historically high levels of tuberculosis (60% of the global total) and has experienced a marked rise in HIV seroprevalence (22% of the global total) in key subpopulations of these highly populous nations. Thus, co-infected patients are a challenge for practitioners and public health workers alike. The U.S.-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program is spearheading interdisciplinary collaborations in Asia to address the many outstanding research priorities for HIV-tuberculosis co-infection. There is an urgency to this agenda for many reasons, including the frequency with which tuberculosis accounts for the death of HIV infected persons in Asia, and the continued rise of multiple drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We review briefly the public health situation in Asia, highlighting research questions from US-Japan-Asian partner joint meetings, and cite salient studies to indicate trends and challenges.
tuberculosis; HIV; AIDS; Asia; epidemiology; immune reconstitution syndrome; co-infection
Chronic pain is a significant public health problem in the United States. While the understanding that pain is an important biological signal has always been appreciated by health care professionals, management of pain has now come under significant scrutiny following its recognition as the fifth vital sign. Since the measurement of pain is not objective, the answers to questions regarding how to best manage the problem are not always self-evident. Multiple modalities, including interventional procedures and noninvasive techniques, are available for the treatment of pain. Acute pain is usually self-limiting when a reversible element can be identified. If acute pain is undertreated, it may become chronic in nature with the attendant problems of prolonged pain. Chronic pain creates psychological and social problems that are difficult and frustrating for both patient and physician. A multimodal therapeutic program in which the patient is an active participant can satisfactorily manage most pain problems. The use of opioids is considered legitimate medical therapy for chronic nonmalignant pain. If the need for opioid therapy is felt to be indicated, the physician should adhere to recommended guidelines as published by state licensing boards and professional organizations. Successful pain management is a rewarding experience for health care professionals.
The recent Immigration Bill debate in the United States Congress has again re-ignited the polemic regarding immigration policy. In this essay, I argue that disputes surrounding the legality of migrant workers highlight chronic, underlying problems related to factors that drive migration. The public health field, although concerned primarily with addressing the health needs of migrant populations, cannot remain disengaged from the wider debates about migration. The health needs of migrants, although in themselves important, are merely symptoms of deeper structural process that are intrinsically linked to equity and human rights, and simply focusing on health issues will be insufficient to address these societal pathologies.
This paper sketches an account of public health ethics drawing upon established scholarship in feminist ethics. Health inequities are one of the central problems in public health ethics; a feminist approach leads us to examine not only the connections between gender, disadvantage, and health, but also the distribution of power in the processes of public health, from policy making through to programme delivery. The complexity of public health demands investigation using multiple perspectives and an attention to detail that is capable of identifying the health issues that are important to women, and investigating ways to address these issues. Finally, a feminist account of public health ethics embraces rather than avoids the inescapable political dimensions of public health.
feminism; public health ethics; justice
Africa’s strategies for pandemic influenza must also strengthen overall public health capacity.
Global concerns about an impending influenza pandemic escalated when highly pathogenic influenza A subtype H5N1 appeared in Nigeria in January 2006. The potential devastation from emergence of a pandemic strain in Africa has led to a sudden shift of public health focus to pandemic preparedness. Preparedness and control activities must work within the already strained capacity of health infrastructure in Africa to respond to immense existing public health problems. Massive attention and resources directed toward influenza could distort priorities and damage critical public health programs. Responses to concerns about pandemic influenza should strengthen human and veterinary surveillance and laboratory capacity to help address a variety of health threats. Experiences in Asia should provide bases for reassessing strategies for Africa and elsewhere. Fowl depopulation strategies will need to be adapted for Africa. Additionally, the role of avian vaccines should be comprehensively evaluated and clearly defined.
Influenza; avian; Africa; H5N1; capacity; Nigeria; surveillance; pandemic; IDSR; health priorities; research