Thursday, April 30, 2009

Maplecroft Flu Pandemic Maps Reveal Countries Most at Risk

/PRNewswire/ -- With swine flu topping the agenda of business around the world, 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 and Capacity to Contain. Each index generates a list of countries most at risk and that 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 United Kingdom 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 and one of the founding directors of Maplecroft. "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."

IPRI sources include: WHO, UNESCO, FAO, World Organisation for Animal Health, World Bank, Environmental Research Group Oxford, World Resources Institute and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

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