WHO strategy to fight flu pandemics

Prelims level : Health Mains level : GS - III
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The World Health Organization launched a strategy to protect people worldwide over the next decade against the threat of influenza, warning that new pandemics are “inevitable”.

Influenza epidemics, largely seasonal, affect around one billion people and kill hundreds of thousands annually, according to WHO, which describes it as one of the world’s greatest public health challenges.

WHO’s 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 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.

It also called for the development of more effective and more accessible vaccines and antiviral treatments.Due to its mutating strains, vaccine formulas must be regularly updated and only offer limited protection currently.

Broader use of seasonal vaccines, which not only protect vulnerable populations but also help prepare countries to rapidly deploy vaccines in the case of a pandemic.

About Influenza Virus

  • Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe.
  • The most common symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, sneezing, and feeling tired.
  • These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks.
  • In children, there may be diarrhea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting occur more commonly in gastroenteritis, which is an unrelated disease and sometimes inaccurately referred to as “stomach flu” or the “24-hour flu”.
  • Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.[2][4]
  • Three of the four types of influenza viruses affect humans: Type A, Type B, and Type C.
  • Type D has not been known to infect humans, but is believed to have the potential to do so.
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