School of Public Health and Community Medicine

WHO consultation meeting on the development of an influenza disease burden estimation tool

Image - WHO consultation meeting on the development of an influenza disease burden estimation tool

The impact of seasonal epidemic influenza on the populations is poorly understood, particularly in low and middle-income countries. Dr David Muscatello's research program around estimating the epidemiology of influenza in populations has led to a continuing relationship with the Global Influenza Programme of the World Health Organization (WHO). In recent years David and other international partners have been collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States in a joint project with WHO aimed at estimating global deaths and hospitalisations due to seasonal influenza. So far, the project has led to a revised annual global mortality estimate of 290,000 to 650,000 deaths associated with influenza each year.

Dr Muscatello of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine, joined a consultation meeting at the World Health Organization in Geneva in April 2018. The purpose of this meeting was to advise on the development of an influenza disease burden estimation tool. The tool will aim to support countries in quantifying various levels of poor health outcomes arising from annual influenza epidemics, from mild illness to death.

One of the challenges this project will face is lack of data. Even in more developed countries, there is little information on some of the health outcomes caused by influenza, such as primary care visits, hospitalisations and deaths. If it succeeds, though, the project will further support the case for influenza control in numerous countries. Further introduction of influenza vaccine may lead to hundreds of thousands of lives saved each year globally.

The meeting was for two days, and David says that he spent more time flying there and back than he did in Geneva!

Contact Name : 
Dr David Muscatello