Two evaluations of the response to the 2009 Pandemic in Spain: Surveillance and Vaccines and antiviralsArchived

ECDC comment

​Two official evaluations have been made by the national Ministry of Health of Spain of their country’s response to the 2009 influenza pandemic. The reviews focused on two particular topics - Surveillance and Vaccines and Antivirals.

Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality

Two official evaluations have been made by the national Ministry of Health of Spain of their country’s response to the 2009 influenza pandemic. The reviews focused on two particular topics - Surveillance and Vaccines and Antivirals.

The first report on Surveillance summarises that the activities developed by the technical group designated in the Spanish pandemic National Plan, the Surveillance Subcommittee, which had as its primary objective ensuring the epidemiologic surveillance system’s ability to respond in a timely manner during the different phases of the pandemic. The evaluation was carried out with the purpose of extracting lessons learnt which will feed into the current surveillance system in order to prepare it to respond effectively to similar future health emergencies.

The report notes the good flow and mechanisms of inter-institutional and inter-territorial coordination developed during the initial alert phases as well as during the pandemic itself. In addition the speediness of the contention and mitigation activities set in place are noted. Spain had surveillance protocols defined beforehand and this allowed for a rapid adaptation which in turn facilitated the availability of information used in the preparation of the different public health recommendations at national level and to respond to the initial alerts and the subsequent pandemic. The lessons learnt mainly refer to difficulties in the communication between primary care and public health services, to the sometimes complex processes used to retrieve essential information and the need to adapt the national response to the different regions, in terms of recommendations. Specific areas for improvement identified were:

  • prioritization of activities according to their individual context and evolution of the epidemic,prioritization of activities according to their individual context and evolution of the epidemic,
  • the simplification of technical meetings,
  • the planning and consolidation of networks and structures prepared and ready for an adequate response when facing alerts and health emergencies, as required by the International Health Regulations.

The second report concerns Vaccines and Antivirals. It summarises the results of an internal evaluation of use of vaccines and antivirals set against the objectives in the Spanish National Plan. The activities carried out by the Antivirals and Vaccines subcommittee, in charge of this evaluation, prior to the pandemic were also reviewed. The report states that the activities developed by the subcommittee were positive overall as judged by the Subcommittee members, and the proposed agreements, which were later approved by the Public Health Commission. They were also followed in all the Autonomous Regions of Spain. The report highlights the coordination and consensus reached among the technical members of the subcommittee, the distribution of antivirals in the Autonomous Regions and the accessibility of information and availability of vaccines between the central and regional levels. The report also notes various areas that could be improved in the update of Pandemic Preparedness and Response plans, for instance, the inclusion of the different scenarios for action based on the epidemiological evolution of the disease, the need to expedite the deployment of the agreements adopted by the subcommittee and the review of communication strategies, especially concerning health professionals.