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Managing pandemic influenza in general practice

Part A - Introduction

Executive summary

Last revised: 09 Dec 2019

This document, Managing pandemic influenza in general practice: A guide for prevention, preparation, response and recovery, is part 1 of the RACGP’s Pandemic flu kit (PFK). Parts 2 and 3 of the PFK are listed below.

  • Part 2: Implementation guide
  • Part 3: Pandemic influenza toolkit

The aim of the PFK is to provide the general practice team with the information to build knowledge and competency in managing the impact of a pandemic influenza. Details about each of these documents are available in About the Pandemic flu kit.

While influenza is the most likely pandemic that general practice will respond to in Australia, this resource is a useful adjunct to preparing for and managing other pandemics. These resources align with Australia’s national health sector plan, the Department of Health’s Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza (AHMPPI), and are based on the principles of an all-hazards approach to emergency risk management for health. Additionally, these pandemic resources build upon the lessons learned from the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.

The resource is based on a risk management approach which covers the four cyclic stages of an emergency or disaster: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR). This approach to pandemic influenza allows general practices to develop flexible plans that suit their unique situation and that can be adjusted to meet the level of threat caused by the pandemic influenza.

The principles covered in these resources can also be used to develop plans for other relevant infectious disease surges or pandemics. This may include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), measles, or a currently unknown future virus.

While these resources touch on all four stages of PPRR, the primary focus is on preparedness and response as these stages require a greater need for planning and coordination.

These stages of planning and management align with the World Health Organization (WHO) continuum of pandemic phases (refer to Figure 1):

  1. Interpandemic phase – between pandemics
  2. Alert phase – when a new subtype has been identified and increased vigilance and risk assessment are warranted
  3. Pandemic phase – a period of global spread of a new subtype as indicated by global risk assessment based on virologic, epidemiologic and clinical data
  4. Transition phase – when global risk drops, promoting step-downs in response activities.

Phases of pandemic influenza and the stages of management can change rapidly and often overlap. In a country the size of Australia, it is likely that different geographical regions will be in different pandemic phases at any one time.

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