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2010 Aspen Ideas Festival Global Health Program Track

A panel at the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday addressed how the world can better prepare for the next global pandemic.

Reggie Van Lee, an executive vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton, who leads the firm’s public health and not-for-profit businesses, moderated the discussion with ABC News’ senior health and medical editor Richard Besser; Nigel Crisp, an independent crossbench member of the U.K. Parliament’s House of Lords and former head of Britain’s National Health Service; and Nathan Wolfe, director of the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative and a visiting professor in human biology at Stanford.

Besser, who was acting director of the CDC during last year’s H1N1 (swine) flu pandemic outbreak, said that decisions about sending H1N1 vaccines to developing countries occurred “too late in the middle of a pandemic” and that the ethical issues of how to distribute scarce resources should have been discussed in advance.

Drawing on his experience in Africa, Crisp said one key element to dealing with the next pandemic is “improving developing country health systems” as well as their government and health leadership. Because the world is now so interdependent, Crisp discussed how developed and developing countries need to learn from each other.

Wolfe asserted that the best way to respond to future pandemics is to “prevent them” or “stop them early,” through traditional epidemiology combined with new technologies like Google Flu Trends, which monitors flu-related search terms, or by utilizing information posted via social media to estimate global flu spread.

The panelists also discussed: information sharing and transparency between stakeholders, the need for new vaccines and treatments, improving communication to the public, and the intersection of politics and science (Balderas, 7/9).  A video of the panel discussion will be available at the Aspen Ideas Festival website.

Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report Managing Editor Jill Braden Balderas talked with Crisp about how he believes developed and developing countries can work together to improve global health.  Crisp recently authored the book  Turning The World Upside Down – The Search for Global Health in the 21st Century.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.