Laborie Community (Saint Lucia) Partner with PAHO

Castries, Saint Lucia, July 28, 2009 (NEMO) - The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) together with the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) pilot tested a toolkit on Surviving a Flu Pandemic: What Your Municipality Can Do. It took place at the Velon John Administrative Building in Laborie the week of July 27, 2009. Given the potential of a near simultaneous global impact, it is likely that little or no outside assistance will be provided for much of the critical period of an outbreak. For this reason, the toolkit provides hands-on resources that can be put to immediate use in the preparedness, response, and recovery stages.

Since 2003, a growing number of human H5N1 (avian influenza, or AI, virus) cases have been reported in Asia, Europe, and Africa; most are believed to have been caused by exposure to infected poultry. The human population has little or no immunity to AI viruses and more than half of the people infected with the virus have died. If the virus evolves in such a way that it is capable of sustained human-to-human transmission, a pandemic could begin.

Preparing for and responding to a pandemic requires coordinated actions and communications by all levels of government and segments of society. To address this need, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its 16 missions in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, and its U.S. government partners are working with host governments to raise awareness and plan for a potential AI pandemic, and to coordinate international preparedness and response measures.

As part of this effort, the USAID/LAC partners–Pan American Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Stamping Out Pandemic Avian Influenza, and Links Media–have developed a toolkit for municipal-level pandemic influenza (PI) preparedness and response in the LAC region. The toolkit provides information about the most important actions a mayor or municipal leadership team can take in the event of an influenza pandemic in the areas of health, risk/crisis communication, disaster management, and food security and livelihood.

Laborie was represented by the Laborie Village Council, Laborie Disaster Committee and Laborie Development Committee their participation in this pilot, and the feedback they provided, will contribute significantly to the ability of Latin American and Caribbean communities to organize an effective response to a flu pandemic.

Saint Lucia's National Influenza Plan was approved on May 18, 2009 by Cabinet and is available at www.tiny.cc/flu

For further information:
• Robert Lee - Manager, Emergency Operations Center
Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)
Velon John Administrative Centre
Tel. no.: (758) 454-6288

• A. L. Dawn French – Director, NEMO
Tel. no.: (758) 452-3802
Tel: (758) 468-2126

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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