The preparation for pandemic outbreaks was tested and proved adequate during the H1N1 flu scare, according to a new report from Trust for America's Health, the Center for Biosecurity and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Pandemic Flu: Lessons From the Frontlines "found that the initial response to the H1N1 outbreak showed strong coordination and communication and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances from U.S. officials," said a release from the organizations, "but it also showed how quickly the nation's core public health capacity would be overwhelmed if an outbreak were more severe or widespread."
According to the release, 10 lessons learned were:
- Investments in pandemic planning and stockpiling antiviral medications paid off.
- Public health departments did not have enough resources to carry out plans.
- Response plans must be adaptable and science-driven.
- Providing clear, straightforward information to the public was essential for allaying fears and building trust.
- School closings have major ramifications for students, parents and employers.
- Sick leave and policies for limiting mass gatherings were also problematic.
- Even with a mild outbreak, the health care delivery system was overwhelmed.
- Communication between the public health system and health providers was not well coordinated
- WHO pandemic alert phases caused confusion.
- International coordination was more complicated than expected.