Research Paper: Pandemic Flu Apart

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[. . .] These views would then be considered by health authorities, without an obligation for them to implement it. (Silva et al., 2012)

Ever since the 2009 pandemic of the swine flu, many articles have been written about the prospect of another global pandemic. These articles have listed several other reference sources for more information and have been open to queries and concerns from the general public. Governments and International organizations have also supervised the creation of many websites that share full information and policies. However, most of these websites contain content that is too compact for most readers. Also, most of these websites send readers to the same few sources. A full search on the topic provide too many sources, most of which may hold little relevance to most readers. (International Affairs, 2005)

Only a few researches have evaluated population awareness regarding a pandemic flu. Evaluating awareness and community preparedness may be a good method of evaluating the role of awareness campaigns. In a study conducted in two cities in Saudi Arabia on 1,548 subjects, awareness, attitudes and practices related to Influenza A was studied. A great proportion (54.8%) of subjects showed high concern towards the possibility of an outbreak. The level of education was a significant factor that was related to the level of concern displayed. Despite the great level of concern expressed by a majority of participants, 60.8% took minimal or no precautionary measures. The study concluded that a higher level of concern did not increase compliance with precautionary measure. (Balkhy, Abolfotouh, Hathlool & Jumah, 2010)

In another study conducted in France, the outcome of public health policies in the country was assessed. After the April 2009 outbreak, the French government issued a policy of mass vaccination against the H1N1 pandemic. Out of the 2,113 respondents, only 35% perceived the H1N1 Influenza strain as a severe disease. Acceptability of the A/H1N1 vaccine was only 17%. Respondents who were formally advised to receive the vaccine had a higher acceptability rate. Amongst respondents who refused the vaccine, a great majority (71.2%) expressed concerns about vaccination safety. (Schwarzinger M, Flicoteaux R, Cortarenoda S, Obadia Y, Moatti J-P, 2010)

The above two researches provide compelling evidence regarding public unawareness in two countries. These studies were conducted 7 months and 12 weeks following the start of the 2009 pandemic, respectively. Results of both studies show that even during a pandemic, public awareness efforts were inadequate to dispel community concerns. This raises another ethical issue regarding effective communication between healthcare workers and the community at large. Even though one might argue that too much information may cause unnecessary anxiety, it still remains to be a crucial factor determining campaign effectiveness.

Another nasty concern bought out into the open after previous pandemics has been the issue of fairness. Trends in some hospitals and pharmaceutical companies may be inconsistent with any account of justice. During a pandemic, health authorities are also faced with an equal risk. These authorities who have the power to set priorities and allocate resources may not be held accountable for favoring their friends, families or ethnic groups. This discrimination violates the rules of the prioritization grid. By using stockpiles of drugs and vaccines to protect their own groups leaves others at a susceptible situation and contributes to public mistrust. This is a clear violation of human right principles and the basic foundation of legal laws that have been laid down for pandemic situations. (Addressing ethical issues, 2008)

In the panel set out by the WHO for pandemic flu preparedness and response, several duties of a healthcare worker have also been discussed. These duties have also been a controversial issue and the debate continues over the ethical articulation of a healthcare workers' duty to treat. An obvious issue regarding this subject is the healthcare worker's susceptibility to infection. Estimates from past endemics report that at least 25% of the workforce will become infected in the face of a pandemic flu. These first line responders may also fall prey to a great proportion of initial unpreventable deaths. It is only after the first few case reports that the alarm for the need of vaccines occur. Pre and post exposure vaccines may not entirely be preventative. These facts put health care workers in a vulnerable position. (Addressing ethical issues, 2008)

To incentivize healthcare workers to consent to put their lives at risk to treat patients include certain measures. These include allowing healthcare workers to be the first to receive the vaccine, when it becomes available, and the first to receive antiviral drugs. Additional support for family members, supplemental life/disability insurance coverage for workers and their families, hazardous duty pay, personal protective equipments and training; and specialized training for dealing with virulent infectious diseases are other measures that may help incentivize health care workers. (Shabanowitz & Reardon 2009). However, this would institutions to make financial as well as moral investments for the lives of healthcare workers.

In a study conducted by Shabanowitz & Reardon (2009), opinions from healthcare workers, regarding their duty to treat under such circumstances, were obtained. Results concluded that healthcare workers expressed a willingness to work in the event of an endemic flu. More than sixty percent of employees did not agree that it was ethical to abandon the workplace during a pandemic. However, even though the majority of employees did want the autonomy to decide whether or not they wanted to work, about seventy nine percent of workers agreed to work if provided with incentives and protective options.

The results of another study, conducted by Damery et al. (2009), did not match the above mentioned conclusion. The outcome of this research revealed that about eighty five percent of health care workers are likely to abandon work place in the face of a pandemic, with potential absentees concentrated amongst nurses and ancillary workers. Despite inconsistent results, both studies still come to a common conclusion of providing proper incentives to overcome barriers linked to 'willingness to work'.

Another effective measure that must take place at all times, and especially during periods of pandemics, is a proper infection control system. The Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee set by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention has come up with specific guidelines for the control of Infectious Diseases. These include the mention of specific healthcare etiquettes and the use of disposable gloves, gowns and masks. This may be a novel practice for most healthcare facilities in low income countries, or even in high income country during a pandemic. Nevertheless, the maximum possible control and isolation need to be practiced as part of an ethical duty of nurses and other healthcare workers. (CDC, 1998)

All employees are at risk of exposure, therefore, all staff members should remain up-to-date with hospital paid vaccines and annual flu shots at all times, if available and not medically contraindicated. Pre-pandemic drills should be conducted in order to keep all employees well informed of any necessary precautions. Employees also need to be aware of where to notify in the face of a pandemic flu. Annual training sessions and monthly evaluation need to be conducted for employees. Employees who have been exposed at work or at home, or employees who are ill, need to be isolated and quarantined until they are safe or fit to work. During this time, they need to be given preference for treatment. (CDC, 1998)

Having discussed both sides' core ethical and legal issues regarding a pandemic situation, it is also important to outline the duty of nurses and other healthcare professionals during such a circumstance. Since nurses form the base of most healthcare facilities, their active part will help prevent collapse of the healthcare system. A nurse's duty starts from the arrival of the very first patient suffering from a mutated Influenza strain. During every pandemic, the first few patients are more liable to suffering from a severe disease and eventually its consequences, which may even be death. It is important to recognize who these patients may be and provide them with prophylactics. Moreover, recognizing the illness early and reporting it to health authorities is also an important factor that may determine spread. With the flooding of hospitals and occupation of every hospital bed, most of which may be occupied by critical care patients nurses need to work in collaboration to provide the best possible care. Furthermore, sound ethical judgment on part of the nurses may help save the most number of patients.

CONCLUSION:

Flu pandemics have occurred after every 30-40-year periods. (Tam & AW, 2003)The last pandemic in 2009 left the world in a state of fear. Key issues regarding ethical and legal debates were put out in the open. Based on the three principles of equality, equity and procedural fairness, a group of experts discussed these issues amongst themselves and the public. Inferences were put on a panel and published online. (Addressing ethical issues, 2008)

Prioritization of patients in the face of an… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Pandemic Flu Apart.  (2012, July 30).  Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/pandemic-flu-apart/2964371

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"Pandemic Flu Apart."  Essaytown.com.  July 30, 2012.  Accessed June 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/pandemic-flu-apart/2964371.