Handbook of Disease Burdens and Quality of Life Measures pp 1419-1431 | Cite as
Prophylaxis of Healthcare Workers in an Influenza Pandemic
The threat of an imminent influenza pandemic has galvanized global efforts to identify effective preparedness strategies and consider securing health resources. As the nations prepare to meet this threat, public health interventions are being carefully gauged within the context of influenza epidemiology, populations, and healthcare systems. A pandemic will place enormous demands on healthcare systems that include at the center of planning efforts the protection of healthcare workers. During an influenza pandemic, healthcare workers will be on the front lines delivering care to patients and preventing further spread of the disease. Protecting these workers from acquiring or transmitting infection in the hospital ward and outside the workplace is critical to containing a pandemic and limiting morbidity and mortality of the population. Several approaches to protecting healthcare workers include vaccination, antiviral prophylaxis, use of personal protective equipment, and adherence to other infection control practices. In the absence of vaccination, application of antiviral drugs has been rationalized as the first-line defense against the pandemic strain. While the treatment of ill individuals is top priority in most national contingency plans, the use of drugs as prophylaxis has been debatable. This chapter attempts to highlight the importance of a competent healthcare system in response to an influenza pandemic, and presents the conflicting issues that are surrounding an antiviral prophylaxis strategy. An overview of potential benefits and limitations, logistical constraints, and clinical and epidemiological consequences of healthcare worker prophylaxis is also provided.
KeywordsHealthcare Worker Antiviral Drug Influenza Pandemic Personal Protective Equipment Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
List of Abbreviations:
essential service personnel
Food and Agricultural Organization
World Health Organization
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