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Open Access Software

Development of a resource modelling tool to support decision makers in pandemic influenza preparedness: The AsiaFluCap Simulator

Mart Lambertus Stein12*, James W Rudge3, Richard Coker3, Charlie van der Weijden4, Ralf Krumkamp56, Piya Hanvoravongchai7, Irwin Chavez8, Weerasak Putthasri9, Bounlay Phommasack10, Wiku Adisasmito11, Sok Touch12, Le Minh Sat13, Yu-Chen Hsu14, Mirjam Kretzschmar12 and Aura Timen1

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Infectious Disease Control, Bilthoven, 3720, BA, The Netherlands

2 Utrecht Centre for Infection Dynamics, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, Utrecht, 3584, CX, Netherlands

3 Communicable Disease Policy Research Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Satharanasukwisit Building, 420/1 Rajvithi Road, Bangkok, 10400, Thailand

4 Municipal Health Service (GGD), Flevoland, Post box 1120, Lelystad, 8200 BC, The Netherlands

5 Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Bernhard Nocht Str. 74, Hamburg, 20359, Germany

6 Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Lohbrügger Kirchstrasse 65, Hamburg, 21033, Germany

7 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Chulalongkorn University, 1873 Rama 4 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand

8 Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, 420/6 Rajvithi Road, Bangkok, 10400, Thailand

9 International Health Policy Program - Thailand, Ministry of Public Health, Tiwanond Road, Amphur Muang, Nonthaburi, 11000, Thailand

10 National Emerging Infectious Diseases Coordination Office, Ministry of Health, Simoung, Sisatanak District, Vientiane, Lao PDR

11 Faculty of Public Health, University of Indonesia, UI Campus, Depok, 16424, Indonesia

12 Department of Communicable Disease Control, Ministry of Health, No. 151-153 Kampuchea Krom Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

13 Ministry of Science and Technology of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 113 Tran Duy Hung street, Ha Noi, Vietnam

14 Centers for Disease Control, R.O.C. (Taiwan), Taipei City, 10050, Taiwan R.O.C

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:870  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-870

Published: 12 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Health care planning for pandemic influenza is a challenging task which requires predictive models by which the impact of different response strategies can be evaluated. However, current preparedness plans and simulations exercises, as well as freely available simulation models previously made for policy makers, do not explicitly address the availability of health care resources or determine the impact of shortages on public health. Nevertheless, the feasibility of health systems to implement response measures or interventions described in plans and trained in exercises depends on the available resource capacity. As part of the AsiaFluCap project, we developed a comprehensive and flexible resource modelling tool to support public health officials in understanding and preparing for surges in resource demand during future pandemics.

Results

The AsiaFluCap Simulator is a combination of a resource model containing 28 health care resources and an epidemiological model. The tool was built in MS Excel© and contains a user-friendly interface which allows users to select mild or severe pandemic scenarios, change resource parameters and run simulations for one or multiple regions. Besides epidemiological estimations, the simulator provides indications on resource gaps or surpluses, and the impact of shortages on public health for each selected region. It allows for a comparative analysis of the effects of resource availability and consequences of different strategies of resource use, which can provide guidance on resource prioritising and/or mobilisation. Simulation results are displayed in various tables and graphs, and can also be easily exported to GIS software to create maps for geographical analysis of the distribution of resources.

Conclusions

The AsiaFluCap Simulator is freely available software (http://www.cdprg.org webcite) which can be used by policy makers, policy advisors, donors and other stakeholders involved in preparedness for providing evidence based and illustrative information on health care resource capacities during future pandemics. The tool can inform both preparedness plans and simulation exercises and can help increase the general understanding of dynamics in resource capacities during a pandemic. The combination of a mathematical model with multiple resources and the linkage to GIS for creating maps makes the tool unique compared to other available software.

Keywords:
Pandemic influenza; Preparedness; Pandemic exercises; Public health officials; Decision making; Health care resources; Influenza modelling; Simulator