Global public health security is both a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility that demands cooperative action at all levels. The expansion of the current H5N1 avian influenza enzootic and its incursion into human health presents a real and significant threat of an influenza pandemic. The world has for the first time an unprecedented opportunity for pandemic preparation. Current global efforts to tackle the H5N1 pandemic threat are centred around the framework of the International Health Regulations (2005) that requires countries to openly share disease intelligence including clinical samples, viruses and epidemiological information. Present international initiatives also seek to establish more equitable allocation and sharing mechanisms for developing countries, of therapeutic resources, public health interventions and other broad-based support in the event of a pandemic. To be sustainable, country preparatory efforts need to be integrated within wider national emergency preparedness frameworks and emphasise the strengthening of basic capacities in disease surveillance, outbreak response and health systems that can respond to a range of public health emergencies. Such capacity building represents permanent investments in health that will have enduring benefits beyond a pandemic. Preparations must also go beyond the health sector; greater promotion of intersectoral cooperation and an adoption of a whole-of-society approach to preparation is recommended. Broad collaboration is vital in addressing the complex challenge posed by influenza to our collective security.
The world is confronted by many important public health challenges, some of which constitute potentially devastating global threats. Prime among these is the threat of a influenza pandemic.
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