National Governors Association releases pandemic preparedness plan
| 07.20.2006 | 03:38:12 | Views: 2835 | ID:
July 20 '06: State and local governments and their communities should move toward efforts at local preparedness and improve pandemic disease planning according to the National Governors Association's new "best practices"report, "Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza: A Primer for Governors and Senior State Officials." In the report, the NGA urged state and local governments that they "must be prepared to manage their responsibilities independently, without relying on the outside assistance that would be available for natural disasters or other localized incidents."
Planning on the local level is more than just stockpiling vaccines and other medicines, the report says. If an outbreak of a pandemic disease, like the H5N1 avian flu virus, were to sweep the country it would "affect all sectors of society: high rates of worker absenteeism could affect the operations of water treatment plants; efforts to slow or stop the spread of the disease could limit the availability of food, cause schools to be closed for significant periods of time, and create economic hardships for state and local governments," as well as the private sector and citizens."When a pandemic occurs," the NGA report said, "the impact of the disease will join the lexicon of nation-changing incidents on the scale of 9-11 and the 2005 Hurricane Season. In every state, governors and senior officials will be at the forefront of protecting public health, maintaining critical services and infrastructure, and leading the public from crisis to recovery." To match the state and local level, the Senate, announced Wednesday that it had passed legislation designed to boost a national pandemic preparedness and response plan. According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP), five major points of the bill were cited for helping state and local response plan coordination with the federal government. The five included: giving national coordinating authority to the Health and Human Services Secretary in time of pandemic emergency; improving the coordination of surge capacity operations and logistics; creation of standards of preparedness for states; public funding to help state and local operations; and the creation of a national system that trains, organizes and supports local healthcare volunteers. The NGA plan calls for four major principles "to guide governors in their ongoing efforts to shape effective response plans": the protection of states' essential services and their continuation during a crisis; understanding that medical response will be limited and overwhelmed during an emergency; a working relationship with private sector will be essential to help keep basic community services running; and the understanding that many very important decisions might have to be made in a "dynamic" environment so "partnerships must be built now and tested to ensure appropriate and rapid action."
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