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Ongoing workshops provide bird flu preparedness

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  • Ongoing workshops provide bird flu preparedness


    Ongoing workshops provide bird flu preparedness

    Monday December 15 2008

    by Deborah Browne Wills

    A three-day workshop aimed primarily at the health sector is underway at the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS). It is hoped that the course will identify and select personnel for the bird flu national response team that will come into force in the event of a bird flu pandemic. ?This is an ongoing process.? Philmore Mullins, director of NODS told the Antigua Sun.

    ?Since the outbreak of bird flu, across the world the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has been leading the efforts in the Caribbean to plan for bird flu and ensure that the relevant agencies know how to function with an outbreak.? Mullins said.

    ?The major focus today is with the health sector but representatives from all the major stakeholders, culture, police, media, public health, medical health, defence force, the ports and so on, are present.?

    Participants will be learning how to approach the environment they will have to operate in the event of a bird flu outbreak in Antigua, how to protect themselves and others.

    ?Basically the good thing about these workshops is when you conduct an exercise you will see gaps so you go back to the drawing board and review the plans and procedures so that you do a little better next time.? Mullins said.

    Participants will go through the process in the classroom then practice in contrived situations. Exercises include practicing how to secure an impact zone, cordoning specified areas, safe entry, dressing in protective clothing and operating in what is called a hot zone for a particular period of time.

    They will also cover methods of decontamination of the site, decontamination of personnel, and the packaging and disposal of waste material.

    ?Next year there will be an opportunity for us to bring the team together with key policy makers to go through the operating procedures and to conduct an orientation and bird flu plan.? Mullins said.

    This will involve both medical and veterinary personnel who will be required to do train regularly to keep abreast of developments.