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Over the centuries, cycles of infectious disease have decimated populations and shaped world geopolitics. Our understanding of infectious disease has leap forward in the past 150 years however, despite advancements in medical science, disease outbreaks continue to occur with what appears to be an increased frequency.

Historically, the pandemic which impacted New Zealand most heavily was 1918/19 Influenza.  Whilst infection control measures at local level helped to slow the rate of spread and “flatten the curve”, inadequate border control had a devastating impact on other pacific nations. Lessons identified from 1918 resonate clear today.

Looking forward, what factors affect the likelihood of future pandemics?  How can we enhance our current Health processes to lessen the impact?


Major Bob Duncan

Major Bob Duncan is the Principle Medical Officer within the Joint Support Group, New Zealand Defence Force. He is a vocationally qualified General Practitioner with 30 years’ experience as a military Medical Officer. He has served operationally in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Cyprus and the Middle East.