The World Health Organization has launched a strategy to protect people worldwide over the next decade against the threat of influenza, warning that new pandemics are “inevitable”.
According to WHO, Influenza epidemics, largely seasonal, affect around one billion people and kill hundreds of thousands annually, which describes it as one of the world’s greatest public health challenges.
They also said that their new strategy, for 2019 through 2030,aims to prevent seasonal influenza, control the virus’s spread from animals to humans and prepare for the next pandemic.
The WHO chief stressed the need for vigilance and preparation as it Launches the new strategy adding that while pandemic preparedness is estimated to cost less than $1 per person per year, responding to a pandemic costs roughly 100 times that amount.
The new strategy called for every country to strengthen routine health programmes and to develop tailor-made influenza programmes that strengthen disease surveillance, response, prevention, control, and preparedness.
WHO recommends annual flu vaccines as the most effective way to prevent the spread of the disease, especially for healthcare workers and people at higher risk of influenza complications.
Martin Friede, WHO’s vaccines coordinator, urged broader use of seasonal vaccines, which help protect vulnerable populations but also help prepare countries to rapidly deploy vaccines in the case of a pandemic.
WHO said it would expand partnerships to increase research, innovation and availability of new and improved vaccines and other tools to fight influenza and also insisted its new strategy would also have benefits beyond the fight against influenza, since it would also increase detection of other infectuous diseases, including Ebola.