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Preparation more than medication - seminar

MEDIA RELEASE
New Zealand Society for Risk Management Inc
October 28, 2005


Preparation more than medication – seminar organiser

People need to be prepared to fight an influenza pandemic with more than antiviral medication, according to a risk management specialist.

Chris Peace, organiser of the NZ Society for Risk Management seminar, “Avian Influenza – The Next Pandemic”, says some people appear to be relying solely on products like Tamiflu to combat the risk.

However, he says reliance on an unproven medication in a pandemic influenza outbreak is naïve and people should be aware that they can fight off possible infection with other, more simple means.

“Sales of antiviral medication show that people believe this is the way to avoid being affected by the expected influenza pandemic everyone is talking about. Production of products like Tamiflu can’t keep up with the current demand and we don’t yet know how this will perform on the type of flu that causes a pandemic,” Mr Peace says.

“The public needs to know that good general hygiene precautions can help protect them from being infected by any type of flu. Simple things like coughing or sneezing into a tissue and then discarding it and washing your hands is one of the useful tips people should be aware of.

“Relying solely on a medication, as people appear to be doing with the mass bulk buying of products like Tamiflu, is not the only answer. The fact that drug maker Roche has halted supplies of its antiviral drug to the US and Canada to head off hoarding of the product by people fearing a bird flu outbreak should force people to think more closely about what else they can do. We can’t continue to rely on a ‘magic pill’ to fix this problem.”

Mr Peace says that issues like this will be addressed by the seminar the Society for Risk Management is gearing up for on Tuesday, November 1 at Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre in Wellington.

He says the seminar will also address the preparation that New Zealand has already undertaken in readiness for a flu pandemic and what Government agencies like Customs, the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management will do when a pandemic flu occurs.

“There are going to be some good, thought-provoking presentations made by the Ministries and I think the more than 200 registrations we have now received is indicative of how eager people are to find out what they can do, and what has already been done, to prepare New Zealand and its citizens for the next flu pandemic.”

ENDS

THE SOCIETY FOR RISK MANAGEMENT

The Society for Risk Management was founded in 2000 as a not-for-profit organisation to promote excellence in the field of risk management.

Risk Management, in broad terms, is managing risks that can have an impact on strategic, corporate and operational objectives. For example, it can look at events that could impact on long-term plans or goals or how operational risks could result in the disruption of manufacturing or distribution. It is about managing risks to an acceptable level to your people and business or services.

The Society broadly follows the risk management process as set out in a joint Australia / New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4360 Risk Management that is internationally accepted as a best practice guide.

There are 400 members, mostly individuals in New Zealand, and some associate organisations.

The Society is run by a management committee elected by members and headed by Roger Estall, an internationally known leader in the practice of risk management. The society holds biennial conferences, the last of which was in 2004. The Society also holds regular lunchtime meetings when speakers talk about a single risk management related topic.

The Bird Flu Seminar is the first half-day seminar the Society has run and is being conducted independent of sponsorship. Members and the public have latched onto the seminar because of the risks associated with avian influenza and the need to understand and prepare for the next pandemic.

For further information about the Society check the website of www.risksociety.org.nz

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