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Faith-Based Organizations An Anchor During A Pandemic

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  • Faith-Based Organizations An Anchor During A Pandemic

    Dear Colleagues:

    Please share this information with members of the faith if you feel so inclined?
    Your consideration is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


    Karen Murphy-Kimber
    Preparedness Activist
    1100 South 34th Street
    Milwaukee, WI 53215

    May 9, 2006

    This is not a solicitation letter.
    My desire is that God?s People Be Prayerful, Vigilant, and Prepared.

    To My Brethren in the Faith:

    I reach-out to you today for your help regarding a very important matter. As you probably are aware, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a pandemic alert because of the appearance of a novel strain of H5N1 avian influenza that can sicken and kill humans.

    H5N1 Avian Influenza is an emerging global health threat. If the virus continues to evolve into a strain that we have little or no immunity to; than it will have a large scale global impact. In the United States alone, an estimated 90 million citizens could become ill, with 1.9 million dying without medical intervention.

    To-date the H5N1 virus has killed at least 114 of 206 people infected. In almost all human H5N1 cases, infection was caused by close contact with sick or dead birds. The WHO is tracking human cases in the event the virus becomes easily transmitted from person to person. The experts say that the world is ?overdue? for a pandemic. There were three pandemics in the last century.
    The mother of all pandemics, the Spanish Flu, occurred between 1918-1919 causing 500,000 deaths in the U.S. and between 40 and 50 million deaths worldwide. The 1957-1958 Asian Flu pandemic caused at least 70,000 U.S. deaths and 1-2 million worldwide. And the 1968-1969 Hong Kong Flu pandemic caused at least 34,000 U.S. deaths and 700,000 worldwide. But that was then, and this is now. Speaking of now - - there are some 36,000 deaths during the average seasonal flu year in the United States.
    According to most experts, in the event of an outbreak of an avian flu pandemic, it will take several months to develop an effective vaccine. Until then, our best defense will be antiviral drugs, to treat those who are ill. The US government currently has stockpiles for 1 to 2 percent of the population, or less if the drugs are used to prevent rather than treat avian flu.
    According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), ?The collaboration of Faith-Based and Community Organizations with public health agencies will be essential in protecting the public?s health and safety if and when an influenza pandemic occurs.? Faith-based organizations can help and mitigate difficulties that parishioners/members and the community might face. The DHHS has a checklist for Faith-based and Community Organizations on their website at
    The church and faith-based organizations have always played a key role in crisis mitigation. If the H5N1 Avian Influenza (bird flu) continues to evolve and becomes easily transmissible from person to person like the seasonal flu (via coughs, sneezing, and touching contaminated surfaces), than we will not only need the church, but will have to call on the name of The Almighty God to take us through and/or bring us out of a time of peril.
    Please read and consider implementing any or all of the following mitigating opportunities?

    Mitigation Opportunities
    Families will have to purchase water, food, medicine, and supplies to last for 2 wks, 4 wks, 90 days, 1 year, or 18 months - - depending on which expert you believe. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a checklist for families who plan to ?social distancing? themselves at:
    The Latter Day Saints has a list of ?basic foods for storage and self reliance?, and a calculator at:
    The Red Cross has information about ?sheltering in place? and ?building a disaster supplies kit? at:

     Consider encouraging parishioners/members and your community to purchase and store food, water, medicine, and supplies in case of a pandemic or other emergency.

     Consider facilitating church meetings or community forums that address self reliance, emergency preparedness, and illness prevention.

     Consider establishing a ?store house? that parishioners/members can add food, water, medicine, and supplies to now - - and access in the case of a pandemic or other emergency.

     Consider listing the DHSS website where the Family and Individual Checklist, other checklists, and general information are located.

    Mitigation Opportunities
    An especially severe influenza pandemic could lead to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss. Everyday life would be disrupted because so many people in so many places become seriously ill at the same time. Impacts can range from school and business closings to the interruption of basic services such as public transportation and food delivery. On average, infected persons will transmit to approximately two other people. Children usually shed the greatest amount of virus and therefore are likely to post the greatest risk for transmission.? Sources: U.S. Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Schools, day cares, universities, workplaces, and mass gatherings like church, will be cancelled for fear of further spreading the bird flu. Mandatory quarantines, isolation and travel restrictions might be issued.
     Consider collecting food donations from parishioners/members to establish a ?soup kitchen? for your community in case of a pandemic or other emergency.

     Consider allowing your church to be a ?neighborhood staging area for distribution? where deliveries of food, water and essential commodities can be delivered and dispersed to citizens of your community.

     Consider web-casting live services, an archive audio and video sermons, services and lessons; so that parishioners/members and your community can enjoy long distance worship.

     Consider establishing a ?school library? or ?book store? for parishioners/members to buy or borrow educational, religious, and recreational materials for homebound student use.

    Mitigating Opportunities
    H5N1 HAS TWO STRIKING FEATURES ?The overwhelming concentration of cases in previously healthy children and young adults; and the very high mortality.? (WHO) ?IN contrast to 1997 when most deaths from bird flu occurred among victims older than 13, recent avian influenza infections have caused high rates of death among: 1. infants, and 2. young children. Alarmingly, the fatality rate was a mind-boggling 90 percent among young patients in Thailand.? In 1918 the Spanish Flu Pandemic also had high morbidity and mortality rates among small children, youngsters, and young adults who were otherwise healthy. According to DHSS, ?Illness rates could be highest among school-aged children (about 40%) and can decline with age.

     Consider establishing ?parent support groups? for parishioners/members and community who care for sick or dying children and youngsters in case of a pandemic or other emergency.

     Consider establishing a communications link (e.g. telephone hotline, website chat room), for parishioners/members and community to access for grief counseling and prayer.

    Mitigating Opportunities
    Hospitals will be hard hit in any pandemic? not only from the volume of patients, but from staffing shortages, shortages of equipment and food deliveries, and from loss of revenue from various sources (cancelled surgeries, increased expenditures with critically ill etc.) Many hospitals and communities run free standing clinics and community health centers, especially for the under-insured. Well-child, e.g., may need to screen and triage febrile children (?sick kids?) elsewhere (similar to what Emergency Departments may need to do), with febrile patients all being screened for flu in a different location to preserve the function of the wellness centers. In the United States, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department estimates 90 million Americans will contract the virus, and 1.9 million will die without medications. Top health officials in my hometown of Milwaukee County in the state of Wisconsin, U.S., estimates that some 300,000 people will contract the virus and another 6,000 will become fatalities.

     Consider utilizing space at your church and facility for setting up a ?field hospital? to treat sickened citizens of your community.

     Consider establishing and running an orphanage for children and youngsters who loose their parents to the pandemic.

     Reconsider how funerals or memorial services are conducted, since high mortality rates may occur among parishioners/members and community. (Note ? human remains will have to be disposed of according to DHHS protocol, so bodies will not be available.)

    Your personal attention and consideration is greatly appreciated. For further information, I will avail myself to speak with you or with representatives of your organizations.
    Please contact me at (414) 389-9152 or email me at

    Respectfully Submitted,
    Karen Murphy-Kimber
    Last edited by sharon sanders; May 9, 2006, 07:42 AM. Reason: removed 1 link of unknown origin

  • #2
    Re: Faith-Based Organizations An Anchor During A Pandemic

    Karen - I applaud your activism to involve religious organizations in the effort to lessen morbidity and mortality.

    As a note - I would like to say that this board is a multi-religious site. We have members of all religions involved in the top management here. We want to encourage all persons, of all faiths, to get involved with their religious organizations, if they choose, to organize a way to spread the message about H5N1.

    It is clear that the world's governments are not able to contain a H5N1 pandemic, to handle the ill, or to maintain total societal control by themselves. They will need the courage of the average citizen to participate in this endeavour. The question here is, What can I do to help the community that I live in best cope with this pandemic?

    For some, it will be organizing their mosque or temple, for others, it will be organizing their neighbors.

    I urge all persons to take the information from this site and involve your community in the H5N1 discussion.

    "Selfless service alone gives the needed strength and courage to awaken the sleeping humanity in one's heart."
    Sri Sathva Sai Baba
    Last edited by sharon sanders; May 9, 2006, 10:22 AM.


    • #3
      Re: Faith-Based Organizations An Anchor During A Pandemic


      Here is an interesting article about the role of clergy during a pandemic.


      • #4
        Re: Faith-Based Organizations An Anchor During A Pandemic

        beatifully done, Karen and Florida1, this is the kinda thing that makes me glad to be here.
        Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
        Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
        Of facts....They lie unquestioned, uncombined.
        Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
        Is daily spun, but there exists no loom
        To weave it into fabric..
        Edna St. Vincent Millay "Huntsman, What Quarry"
        All my posts to this forum are for fair use and educational purposes only.