Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No, the Government's not entirely crazy...................

This morning an editorial was released by the Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, regarding the outcome of the H1N1 outbreak in the East, from the standpoint of public health management. This article reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a gentleman regarding H1N1 and the “unnecessary overreaction of the WHO and the CDC.”

In India alone there were 16820 reported cases testing positive for H1N1 and 555 deaths. And as a reminder, the global death toll resulting from this pandemic was estimated to be 8800 in mid-December 2009.

Through the panic and confusion, laboratories and public health officials worldwide scrambled to maintain the outbreak, utilizing systems established as a direct result of the SARS outbreak in 2002-03. This time around, challenges primarily arose from internal, rather than global, communication. Lessons learned from this pandemic have stimulated governments, such as in India, to strengthen their outbreak management strategies.

Lessons Learned/Reminder:

- Efficient communication results in greater public resilience and rapid containment, thus limiting morbidity and mortality

- Lessons learned from one outbreak may not always apply to the next, and so laboratories need to be prepared to adapt and respond to new scenarios in short periods of time

- Increased awareness of systems development and lateral communication among clinical microbiologists is needed

Every time the dust settles after an epidemic or an outbreak, there is complacency at various levels in the system. With the establishment of nodal agencies, departments, international collaboration and multiple resources, it is hoped that healthcare set ups are prepared adequately for rapid response in outbreak management.