Health sector response in New Zealand to the 2009 influenza pandemic

Added April 19, 2020

Citation: Wilson N, Summers J, Baker M. The 2009 influenza pandemic: a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the health sector response in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal 2012; 125: 54-6

What is this? Understanding lessons learned from previous pandemics (such as the 2009 influenza (H1N1) pandemic) may help with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for research articles and information on government agency websites that was published between 1 April 2009 and 20 May 2012 and reported on the response of the New Zealand health sector to the 2009 influenza (H1N1) pandemic. They included 38 documents, which reported on the impact in New Zealand where 1122 people were hospitalised with pandemic influenza as the primary diagnosis, 102 were treated in an intensive care unit and there were an estimated 49 pandemic-attributed deaths.

What was found:  Specific strengths identified were that the health sector in New Zealand had invested considerable effort on initial containment measures with case identification, isolation, contact tracing and the provision of antivirals.

Although the impact of public health messages and information was unclear, there was a reduction in primary care consultations for other illnesses during the pandemic.

Hand hygiene practices improved, even though observed respiratory hygiene was fairly poor during the pandemic.

Some likely weaknesses were identified, including a relative lack of a detailed review of the epidemiology and health sector response, sophisticated analytic studies to identify risk factors, and evaluation of the health protection messages used in campaigns and in media releases from health authorities.


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