11:56 pm - Thursday August 21, 2014

UK Tops The List Of 213 Countries At Extreme Risk To The Spread Of Swine Flu


A Warwick Business School professor and one of the founders of global risks specialist, Maplecroft, has released three new maps and indices revealing the countries most at risk from an influenza pandemic.

The Influenza Pandemic Risk Index (IPRI) consists of three categories:

  • Risk of Emergence
  • Risk of Spread
  • Capacity to Contain

Each index generates a list of countries most at risk and which require a tailored policy response on the part of government and business. Maplecroft’s research focuses on global risks to business.

The map of Risk of Spread shows the UK most at risk to the spread of an influenza pandemic, ranking number 1 out of 213 countries. The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada and Japan are also categorised as extreme risk because of their high population density, urbanisation and busy airports.

Even though the UK and other developed Western nations are at extreme risk of spread, their capacity to contain influenza pandemics ranks low risk. Large stockpiling of drugs and a sophisticated health infrastructure, which the Capacity to Contain index captures, means they have very effective measures with which to fight human influenza. Sub-Saharan Africa stands out as the area least able to contain pandemic influenza with 27 out of the 30 most extreme risk countries.

The capacity of a country to contain the spread of human influenza depends on factors of wealth, health infrastructure, education resources, information and communication networks, and governance. The Risk of Emergence index unsurprisingly categorises Mexico as extreme risk and ranks the country as fourth most at risk, whilst Vietnam, China and Bangladesh top the table.

Countries most prone to risk of emergence of swine or avian flu in humans are poorer countries that have dense rural populations, with living quarters in close proximity to livestock. This is compounded by poor hygiene, lack of access to clean water and sanitation and poor public health education.

“It is important to see a newly emerging set of global risks – whether pandemics, conflict and terrorism, resource security including water stress, or climate change as inter-related,” states Alyson Warhurst, Chair of Strategy and International Development at Warwick Business School. She continued, “Climate change is causing drought and flooding which in turn leads to crop failures and the destruction of livelihoods which in turn lead to poverty and the conditions that we see increase vulnerability to pandemic flu.”

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