States need to be independent in bird flu battle

19-07-2006 | |

The US National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has released “Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza: A Primer for Governors and Senior State Officials”,  urging that aggressive, comprehensive planning at the state level is needed to effectively manage a pandemic influenza or other widespread disease outbreak.

The NGA Center says that a pandemic outbreak, should it occur, is likely to affect hundreds or even thousands of communities across the country simultaneously and could come in a series of waves, each lasting weeks at a time. The Center says that state and local governments therefore must be prepared to manage their responses independently, without relying on the outside assistance that would be available for natural disasters or other localised incidents.

“Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza” stresses the need to look beyond the initial public health and medical response and develop strategies to ensure essential government and private sector services—such as police, fire, paramedic, food, water and electricity—remain available during periods when a pandemic outbreak is at its peak and absentee rates are highest. The primer also calls for comprehensive planning that involves government agencies, businesses and individuals, each of whom will have a role to play in responding to a pandemic outbreak.

“The impact of a pandemic will be felt most acutely at the state and local levels,” said NGA Vice Chair Janet Napolitano. “Strong state leadership will be crucial. This document will help governors and state officials understand their unique roles in the development of an effective response plan and the challenges they face.


See also: Dr Simon Shane’s blog on the potential for an avian influenza pandemic.

Related information: avian influenza.