Influenza preparedness in the developing and developed worlds

By Sandi Halimuddin

“Who believes what happens in African until it happens in America?” asked Keith Klugman, chair of Emory University’s global health department.

During his presentation “Influenza and the Pneumococcus- A Deadly Synergism,” Klugman raised global health issues, such as the disparity of research and awareness between diseases affecting the developing and developed worlds.

The 2009 H1N1 pandemic is evidence of this claim; the high incidence rate in developed worlds contributed to significant media coverage and a call to action. In contrast, many developing countries lack advanced pandemic preparedness programs and strategies.

According to Klugman’s research on pandemics, a majority of deaths during the 1918 and 2009 influenza pandemics were “associated with the synergistic lethality of bacterial infections.”

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, bacterial pathogens were implicated in at least a third of mortalities, said Klugman.

From his research, Klugman expressed his hopes for exploring different strategies for increased prevention against influenza. According to his research, “pneumococcal vaccines may reduce mortality and morbidity associated with viral respiratory infections including pandemic influenza and should be considered as an essential part of pandemic flu planning.”

Klugman was one of many lecturers during the University of Washington’s Global Health Week, which runs from May 7-May 11.

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