Pandemic Flu Planning in Africa: Thoughts from a Nigerian Case Study
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR TECHNOLOGY AND NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY
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Over the past 35 years, dozens of new and frightening diseases have been identified. The emergence of H5N1 avian flu in 1996, coupled with the recent declaration of an H1N1 influenza pandemic, demonstrate the urgent need for countries to have pandemic preparedness plans in place. For nations that are unprepared, a pandemic could result in devastating social, economic, and health consequences, including a high number of fatalities. Nowhere is this more so the case than in countries with underdeveloped health care systems. The potential impact of a severe pandemic requires that nations throughout the world develop pandemic response plans before the onset of disease. Rapid spread of disease, as is often associated with a pandemic, will not allow countries the time to implement adequate proper health care and disease mitigation procedures. In recognition of the looming threat of an influenza pandemic, the Center for Technology and National Security Policy CTNSP developed and administered a program to help build pandemic influenza crisis-response capacities. The first Avian InfluenzaPandemic Influenza Policy Planning workshop occurred in Nigeria in June 2007 with the objective of assisting selected Nigerian officials in evaluating their nations pandemic response plan. After assessing the viability of the Nigerian National Integrated Avian and Pandemic Influenza Plan, CTNSP suggested a number of actions for various Nigerian ministries that would strengthen interagency communication and cooperation and the pandemic response in the country. U.S. Africa Command, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Pacific Command, and other partners, has developed a Pandemic Response Program aimed at strengthening partner nations military capacities to plan for, and respond to, pandemics. The development of both military and civilian pandemic response plans in Africa is vital in preparing for a severe pandemic and mitigating its consequences.
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