By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
Emergency management is a complex field. Emergency managers need to understand a multitude of different issues and tools, so they’re better able to plan for and effectively manage crises.
In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Tool for Influenza Pandemic Risk Assessment (TIPRA) to better conduct risk assessments for influenza. TIPRA is a 60-page document that explains the TIPRA standardized assessment system and how it should be used.
Pandemics do not happen often, but they pose an extreme threat to society when they do occur. Several important sections of TIPRA can be adapted for emergency management purposes.
TIPRA Notes that Recurring Influenza Pandemics Require Risk Assessment and Planning
According to TIPRA, “influenza pandemics are unpredictable but [are] reoccurring events that can have consequences on human health and economic well-being.” The WHO document also explains why risk assessment is important in planning and preparing for pandemic threats.
From this perspective, TIPRA is particularly important to emergency management for how these two disciplines overlap with assessment, planning, preparedness and response.
Risk Assessment and Planning for Influenza Pandemics
TIPRA was designed to assess the risk of influenza pandemics and provide a “standardized approach” to assessment. Technical experts will review a pandemic threat utilizing a number of different tools. Some of these tools include a review of the “properties of the virus, attributes in the human population and virus ecology and epidemiology in non-human hosts.”
While the WHO will be the principle user of TIPRA, collaboration among several expert organizations is also important. These experts include:
- The Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS)
- The World Health Organization Collaborating Centers (WHOCC)
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- The World Organization for Animal Health
Steps for Influenza Pandemic Risk Assessment
TIPRA lists 11 steps in risk assessment. These 11 steps are thorough and important in assessing whether influenza is a risk at a certain time. If TIPRA users determine that there is a pandemic risk, the overall assessment provides officials with ample information for determining how to move forward.
It is important to note that TIPRA is designed only for use when an influenza virus has caused at least one human infection. TIPRA is not designed for risk assessment of seasonal influenza viruses (“the flu”), because it focuses on the potential for sustained transmission of a virus among humans.
Tools Like TIPRA Could Help Emergency Managers Save Lives
Documents like TIPRA give emergency managers ideas about how to assess pandemic situations. It also gives them an understanding of how public health officials should conduct assessments and know what actions to take to more effectively manage influenza pandemics.