Photo of health professional wearing face mask and face shield

Pandemic support

We advocate for physiotherapists before, during, and after a pandemic

What is a pandemic

A pandemic is the global outbreak of a disease.  

Pandemics are generally classified as epidemics first, which is the rapid spread of a disease across a particular region or regions.

These influenza pandemics occurred during the 20th century:

  • 1918-19 - between 20-50 million people died as a result of the H1N1 virus
  • 1957-58 - H2N2 virus
  • 1968 - between 1-4 million people died as a result of the H3N2 virus
  • 2009-10 - between 100,000-400,000 people died in the first year as a result of the H1N1 virus.

The 2009-10 pandemic was the first pandemic for which many countries/territories had developed comprehensive pandemic plans describing the public health measures to be taken, aimed at reducing illness and fatalities. For the first time, a pandemic vaccine was developed, produced and deployed in multiple countries/territories during the first year of the pandemic. While most cases of this pandemic were mild, children and young adults were disproportionately affected in comparison to seasonal influenza, which causes severe disease mainly in older people, people with chronic conditions and pregnant women.

Physiotherapy and pandemics

Many national physiotherapy associations emerged as a direct response to the polio epidemics in the early and middle parts of the 20th century. 

Physiotherapists have played a key role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the focus of pandemic shifts, the physiotherapy profession will be central to developing and providing rehabilitation for people to regain health and fitness, return to work, adapt to new circumstances.

Find out more about how we advocate around pandemics