Lessons learned from the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak for the management of the 2013 silent polio outbreak

Iftach Sagy, Paula Feder-Bubis, Victor Novack, Tal Peleg-Sagy, Dan Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The Israeli Ministry of Health (MoH) encountered two substantial outbreaks during the past decade: the H1N1 swine flu outbreak during 2009-2010 and the silent polio outbreak during 2013. Although both outbreaks share several similar characteristics, the functioning of the Israeli MoH was different for each case. The aim of this study was to identify factors that contributed to the change in the MoH response to the polio outbreak in light of the previous 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak. Methods: We conducted a qualitative research using semi-structured interviews with 18 Israeli policymakers from the MoH, relevant specialists and politicians. Each interview was transcribed and a thematic analysis was conducted independently by two researchers. Results: Three main themes were found in the interview analysis, which reflect major differences in the MoH management policy during the polio outbreak. 1) clinical and epidemiological differences between the two disease courses, 2) differences in the functioning of the MoH during the outbreaks, 3) differences in the risk communication strategies used to reach out to the local health community and the general public. Most interviewees felt that the experience of the 2009-2010 H1N1 outbreak which was perceived as unsuccessful, fueled the MoH engagement and proactiveness in the later polio outbreak. Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of learning processes within health care organizations during outbreaks and may contribute to better performance and higher immunization rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number241
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 29 May 2018


  • H1N1 outbreak
  • Organizational learning
  • Polio silent outbreak

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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