Urgent call to action issued to protect world's most vulnerable populations from influenza pandemic

The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more than 50 million people. In the face of the possibility that another virulent pandemic might occur, a group of international experts convened by The Johns Hopkins University is urgently calling on policymakers and public health officials to disseminate a new set of principles to better take into account the interests of those who will be the worst affected: the world's most poor and disadvantaged.

"There are both practical and ethical reasons why policymakers and public health officials should focus on the most vulnerable populations. We have little hope of averting a pandemic if poor villagers are afraid to report sick birds or possible human cases to public health authorities," said Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, executive director of the Berman Bioethics Institute and Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "At the same time, because it is inevitable that the poor will suffer most during a pandemic, it is especially unjust to also impose most of the burden of prevention upon them."

Named for the Rockefeller Foundation's Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, where international experts in economics, epidemiology, ethics, human rights, poultry production, public and animal health and public policy came together to craft it, the Bellagio Statement of Principles represents a new framework for how to approach pandemic prevention and response planning. Examined through the lens of leading social justice theory, current public health plans too often fail to properly take into account the world's most vulnerable populations, according to the group. The principles also make reference to new checklists developed in Bellagio that urge policymakers and health officials to urgently take action such as:

  • Specifically make available accurate, up-to-date and easily understood information about avian and human pandemic influenza for d

Contact: Ed Bodensiek
Johns Hopkins University

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