Friday, June 22, 2007

Community leaders have a vital role to play in pandemic preparedness, HHS forum says

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.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad the role of community leaders is being acknowledged, and I hope that many prominent figures take on this responsibility so that much-needed awareness gets spread. I also think this really highlights our own roles (including those of us who aren't necessarily "community leaders") in putting the word out. Being involved/very interested in the health field gives us a select advantage in that we even know about the seriousness of pandemic flu; the threat has to have more of a presence for people to start thinking about what could happen, and what they should do about it. Mention something interesting you read in the news about avian flu to your co-workers or friends. Get the discussion rolling, because the fact of the matter is, the threat isn't going to evaporate anytime soon...

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the previous post that the threat of pandemic flu isn't disappearing anytime soon and in fact, it is getting more likely as time goes on. In order for us to be as prepared as possible it is important to spread the word to families and individuals. If you have a minute, look over the following checklist on the website and help spread the word to family and friends.

Anonymous said...

May I also recommend:

Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response - A Citizen's Guide