|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 2, 2012
Contact: HHS Press Office
North American countries join forces to prepare for pandemics
A new North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza supports a faster and more coordinated response to influenza pandemics in North America. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper released the plan jointly this week during the North American Leaders Summit as a way to enhance the health and safety of residents of all three nations.
Known as NAPAPI, the plan provides, for the first time, a framework for the health, agriculture, security, and foreign affairs sectors of all three countries to collaborate on pandemic preparedness and response. Collaboration among these partners is vital for a faster response to pandemic threats.
The countries will collaborate to develop and implement concrete actions that strengthen trilateral emergency preparedness and response capacities and capabilities, such as interconnected systems for surveillance and early warning of disease outbreaks and protocols for transporting laboratory samples. The three countries also will conduct joint epidemiological investigations of viruses that could cause human influenza pandemics, as well as outbreaks of animal influenza that pose a threat to human health.
The plan also calls for protecting critical infrastructure in a public health emergency and for developing border policies that do not impose unnecessary restrictions on travel or trade. The plan lays the ground work for mutual assistance during a response, such as sharing personnel as well as vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tests, known collectively as medical countermeasures.
“H1N1 provided a stern reminder that diseases don’t respect national borders and can spread rapidly in our interconnected world so protecting health requires cooperation and collaboration among countries,” explained Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. “NAPAPI represents a trilateral commitment to enhancing health security across the continent.”
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response led the U.S. effort to develop the trilateral plan in collaboration with the Departments of State, Agriculture, and Homeland Security and their counterparts in Mexico and Canada. These partners will continue to collaborate on NAPAPI implementation efforts.
The plan builds on the 2007 North American Plan for Avian and Pandemic Influenza and is the culmination of efforts begun at the 2009 North American Leaders Summit, in which leaders from the three countries committed to building on the lessons learned from the H1N1 pandemic. NAPAPI complements HHS’s ongoing efforts in global health.
HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security.
The plan is available at www.phe.gov/NAPAPI
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to learn more about ASPR and its international efforts in public health and medical emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.