Seasonal Influenza & Pandemic Preparedness
It is not if but when the next influenza pandemic will occur – and how devastating it will be. 100 years after the worst influenza pandemic in recorded history killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, we still aren’t ready – but we can be. The Task Force supports Pandemic Preparedness by helping countries develop Seasonal Influenza systems, which provide countries with the experience and infrastructure necessary for effective and efficient response during a pandemic. Seasonal Influenza programs strengthen global security, as countries establish and regularly test the vaccine systems that save lives today, and could save hundreds of thousands of lives in the future.
In the spring of 2009, a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged – and within weeks the pandemic virus had spread globally causing the first influenza pandemic since 1968. While many people died, it could have been much worse. It is estimated that an influenza pandemic of similar severity to the 1918 pandemic could result in 62 million deaths. It was a wake-up call to the global community, highlighting weaknesses in influenza pandemic preparedness – particularly in low- and low-middle income countries.
Despite advances in the areas of vaccine development, populations around the world remain vulnerable to pandemic influenza and other infectious disease epidemics because of weak and inconsistent vaccine delivery systems, greater population density, more interaction with wild and domestic animals, and more global travel than ever before.
The Task Force for Global Health is committed to helping countries protect their populations from seasonal influenza and prepare for the next pandemic by building capacity in countries to respond effectively and working to help develop more effective influenza vaccines.
Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Programs
PIVI works in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ministries of Health, corporate partners and others to create sustainable seasonal influenza vaccination programs in low- and middle-income countries. PIVI works in concert with WHO programs to help countries prepare for pandemic influenza and to support countries’ efforts to control and prevent seasonal influenza. This important work, which will ultimately be supported by a country’s ministry of health, not only protects communities from the annual impact of flu, but also builds the immunization infrastructure, capacity, and vaccine delivery systems critical for future influenza pandemics and other infectious disease epidemics.
Vaccine Development and Accessibility
In addition to supporting pandemic preparedness through routine, seasonal influenza programs, we also coordinate the Global Funders Consortium for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development, intended to accelerate the development and availability of broadly protective influenza vaccines, which will reduce the global burden and risk from seasonal and pandemic influenza.
Supporting Surveillance of Influenza Outbreaks in Central America and Central Asia
TEPHINET, a network of field epidemiology training programs based at The Task Force, supports efforts to strengthen surveillance of influenza outbreaks in Central America and Central Asia. Efforts in Central America focus on the development of local capacity to create a regional surveillance system to detect flu and related epidemics. In Central Asia, TEPHINET is supporting nine sentinel surveillance sites by training frontline health workers and supporting the development of an electronic surveillance system for influenza.
By Joseph Bresee The development of a universal influenza vaccine has long
Help Build Pandemic Preparedness Capacity
Joe Bresee, MD
Where We Work
To find out where we work on pandemic preparedness, click here and look under PIVI. The Global Funders Consortium for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development does not work in a specific country.
Header photo caption: Health workers get vaccinated for the flu during a seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Mongolia.