Community leaders should take steps now to make sure their residents are prepared for a possible pandemic of influenza, according to a national forum on influenza held in Washington, D.C., June 13.
Organized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the one-day Pandemic Influenza Leadership Forum brought together about 100 leaders from the employer, faith-based, civic and health care sectors.
Among the recommendations that came out of the forum are that community leaders communicate to residents that it is critical for everyone to prepare for the possibility of a flu pandemic. Of key importance is encouraging Americans now to store food and supplies, to get in the habit of washing their hands and to stay home if they are sick, the forum emphasized. Leader can use tools and ideas, such as those provided by HHS or APHA’s Get Ready campaign, to communicate those messages to the public.
Community leaders, such as those involved with civic groups, faith-based organizations, health agencies and schools, "are in a unique position to help disseminate vital information which may save lives," said forum attendee Susan Crosson-Knutson, program development department manager of the International Association of Lions Clubs.
"Leadership at the community level is essential in encouraging people to prepare now for a pandemic flu," Crosson-Knutson said.
APHA, HHS and other health officials are concerned about pandemic flu because a severe outbreak could kill 62 million people worldwide and overwhelm the health care system.
A blog covering the forum and pandemic influenza preparedness is available online.