The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Japanese Government and the World Health Organization (WHO) are to take part in an exercise designed to test their ability to head off the first signs of a human influenza pandemic.
Panstop 2007 involves a mock scenario in which Tamiflu and personal protective equipment (such as goggles and masks) have to be swiftly despatched from an ASEAN-supported stockpile in Singapore to a Southeast Asian country where there are signs of a pandemic strain of influenza.
Partners in the operation
On the ASEAN side, partners will be ASEAN Member Country Cambodia and the ASEAN Secretariat, as well as the Japan International Cooperation System (JICS), acting as the agent for ASEAN. On the Japanese side, the exercise will involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two-day drill will be facilitated from the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific in Manila, Philippines, from 2 – 3 April.
“The Panstop exercise will enable ASEAN Member Countries, Japan, WHO and the ASEAN Secretariat, as well as JICS, to test preparedness and coordination among all parties involved, especially with regard to the timely delivery of the Tamiflu courses and PPE from the regional stockpile in Singapore in times of an actual pandemic,â€ said Ong Keng Yong, the Secretary-General of ASEAN. â€œFor our plans to be effective, we must constantly check and review preparations so that they can be applied to the varying circumstances in each affected areas for maximum result.â€
Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said: â€œContainment of an influenza pandemic has never been attempted before, and we cannot be sure it will work. But this exercise will provide us with valuable insight into what needs to be done if a crisis situation should emerge.â€