GIS and Pandemic Influenza Planning and Response

“Around the world, public health organizations at all levels of government and the partners that support them are responding to pandemic influenza. Infectious disease experts predicted a pandemic, saying it was not a question of if but when. They were right. Drawing on recent experiences with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and concerns over avian influenza (H5N1), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health authorities urged nations and local governments to prepare pandemic influenza response plans. Many ministries of health (MOH) and subnational departments of health (DOH) around the world have activated those plans and are sharing data as required by the updated International Health Regulations (IHR).”

“ESRI believes that geographic accuracy is essential in detecting and responding to any infectious disease outbreak, whether it is pandemic influenza, seasonal influenza, or a local outbreak of food-borne illness. Based on extensive work with many DOHs in the United States, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); international public health organizations such as WHO, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC); and numerous national MOHs and subnational DOHs on all continents, ESRI has identified the use of a geographic information system (GIS) as critical in

  • Assessing risks
  • Evaluating threats
  • Tracking outbreaks
  • Maintaining situational awareness
  • Documenting disparity
  • Ensuring the focused allocation of resources (e.g., vaccines, antivirals)
  • Notifying communities
  • Minimizing the disruption caused by necessary community health interventions

“The current pandemic presents a major opportunity to leverage ESRI’s global footprint in health GIS. Building on the experience and readiness of ESRI’s existing global user community will increase the likelihood that promising GIS practices are implemented in other jurisdictions. Leveraging ESRI’s global footprint in health GIS will also facilitate a seamless flow of geographically relevant data as a component of the response to pandemic influenza, from local to global levels. A compelling case exists for building on top of the health GIS that is already in place both in the United States and around the world.”