A-H1N1 Global Health Research: Comparing Mexico and the United States

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Luxana Reynaga-Ornelas, MN, RN
Departamento de Enfermería y Obstetricia sede León, Universidad de Guanajuato Campus León, Division de Ciencias de la Salud, Leon. Guanajuato, Mexico
Carol M. Baldwin, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN
College of Nursing & Health Innovation; Southwest Borderlands; Director, Office of World Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Learning Objective 1: Appraise the impact of influenza AH1N1 outbreak on health research within the context of each country’s health system.

Learning Objective 2: Compare research development, priorities, infrastructure, and protection of human subjects in Mexico and U.S.

Purpose: In March 2009, an outbreak of influenza A/H1N1 occurred. In June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed the outbreak as a level 6 pandemic. The first cases were reported in Mexico and United States (U.S.). Little is known about the research indicators that impel or constrain health delivery and outcomes analyses. This presentation synthesizes selected research indicators between Mexico and the U.S. relevant to the AH1N1 pandemic.

Methods: Data were obtained from PubMed and Google-Scholar for Mexican and American A/H1N1 studies. Funding organizations, the WHO and ministries of health web pages were also searched. Key search terms included “A/H1N1,” “Mexico,” “U.S.” and “Research.”

Results: Fifteen Mexican and 254 American studies were retrieved from the search engines using relevant key words.  For each country, clinical findings and future priority research areas were identified. The roles of the national research institutions for each country show wide contrasts in emphasis on research infrastructure and dissemination. In developing countries, such as Mexico, available funding resources are inadequate. Clinical and randomized controlled trials have yet to be published in both countries.

Conclusion: The research response in the aftermath of the influenza A-H1N1 outbreak highlights the health research activities in Mexico and the U.S. Major variations were noted in research infrastructure, investment and published findings between the two countries. Despite the measures taken by the Mexican health system to respond to the pandemic, gaps in scientific education, weak regulation, irregular training and old technology hinder research training and development relevant to the dissemination of research information in the AH1N1 pandemic. To strengthen disaster research in Mexico, major investment in infrastructure should be a priority. The U.S., with its strong academic and research infrastructure and renewed federal government advocacy, has taken the lead in research on this pandemic based on the scientific evidence generated.