Pandemic A/H1N1 2009 as an international health event with a global impact

Alex Leventhal, Zohar Mor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the end of April 2009, in proximity with the decline of the seasonal flu season, the world has been acquainted with an outbreak of influenza of a new type of A/H1N1 in Mexico and the USA. The virus has spread throughout the world and become a pandemic flu, for the first time since 1968. This article addresses the global aspects of the outbreak of this new pandemic influenza, starting from the first event of "Avian Flu" in 1997 in Hong Kong, through the outbreaks of SARS in 2003, and the Avian Flu, which also began in 2003, and is still endemic in some countries. This article overviews the International Health Regulations (IHR), which were endorsed by all Member States in 2005, and have been in effect since June 2007. For the first time in history, the Member States of World Health Organization (WHO) were prepared for the upcoming pandemic flu by establishing national preparedness plans and stockpiling anti-viral drugs, even without knowing when and where the first outbreak would take place. The IHR has delegated authority to the WHO to act and lead countries in coping with the various phases of the pandemic in a centralized fashion, starting with formulating the epidemiological surveillance and reports, indications and step-by-step declarations on the alert levels from 4 to 6 announced on June 11th, 2009. The article examines the performances of the WHO and its Director General in exercising the IHR for the first time and leading the event in a professional, harmonized and respectful fashion. Nevertheless, currently, the pandemic A/H1N1 2009 seems to be a mild disease clinically, although causing death, but it has not yet eased, and there are still major question marks concerning its future. Its future spread and severity, together with the WHO response will impact the WHO's ability to conduct global initiatives. Regional cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and Jordan before and after this pandemic influenza outbreak is noted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-808, 857
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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