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Hashim, Ahmed
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Background: The 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic was the first pandemic in the era of modern pandemic planning and preparedness. Although the mortality and morbidity caused by the pandemic was low compared with the previous pandemics, it gave the first opportunity for member states to implement an actual pandemic response reflecting on years of pandemic preparedness and planning. The objective of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of pandemic preparedness activities as well as to identify challenges and activities that require further improvement.\ud \ud Methods: The study was conducted in seven countries within the WHO regional office for Europe; six of them were identified through a stratified random sampling in order to get a representative sample across different levels of preparedness within the WHO European Region. These were Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark (pilot country for the study), Germany, Portugal, Switzerland and Uzbekistan. Research teams visited each country and interviewed six key stakeholder groups at different administrative levels. These were Ministry of Health (MOH), National Public Health Authority (NPHA), Civil Emergency Response (CER) representatives, Sub- National Government Authority, and primary and secondary healthcare workers (HCWs). Focus group interviews were conducted using open-ended questions in semi-structured interview guides.\ud \ud Results: Six recurring themes were identified as essential aspects of pandemic planning activities. These were communication, coordination, capacity building, mutual support, leadership, and flexibility. The following aspects of pandemic planning activities were found to be inadequate and should be improved in the future: risk communication with the public and healthcare workers, coordination of vaccine logistics, flexibility and adaptability of pandemic plans, and surveillance in the secondary healthcare setting.\ud \ud Conclusions: Stakeholders interviewed reported that the pandemic preparedness activities were worthwhile and appropriate for the response measures carried out during the pandemic influenza (H1N1) in 2009. However, the findings identified areas of under planning that were common to most of the participating countries.
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