The decision making process on public health measures related to passenger ships: the example of influenza pandemic 2009.

International maritime health

PubMedID: 21348018

Mouchtouri VA, Bartlett CL, Jaremin B, Nichols G, Paux T, Riemer T, Black N, Varela-Martinez C, Swaan CM, Schlaich C, Rachiotis G, Kremastinou J, Hadjichristodoulou C, SHIPSAN TRAINET project. The decision making process on public health measures related to passenger ships: the example of influenza pandemic 2009. Int Marit Health. 2010;62(4):241-5.
BACKGROUND
Public health measures at sea ports have posed a challenge for public health competent authorities, especially in the context of the influenza pandemic of 2009. This paper discusses the response of authorities to notifications of infectious diseases on passenger ships and the importance of assessing the risks related to cases of influenza. It further provides options for health measures and considerations for decision making during a pandemic such as the influenza pandemic of 2009.

DISCUSSION
Prevention and control of influenza have included action taken by both competent port authorities and ships' crews. Assessing the public health risk of each event reported from ships to competent authorities at ports is important before advice is given on implementation of control measures. Public health risk assessment involves appraisal of threats to passengers and crew on board the ship as well as to the population in the community.

SUMMARY
Any public health measures taken should be necessary and proportional to the threat. Measures at ports cannot alone be effective in the prevention of the spread of a disease to the community since other means of transport play a major role. Measures taken on board ships can be effective in containing the disease. Consistent policy based on common protocols and carried out by competent authorities at local, national, European, or international levels are essential.