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Bird flu: gaps in planning still unresolved

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

10 January 2006


Bird flu: gaps in planning still unresolved

As Turkey reels under the spread of bird flu, National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says there are still major gaps in the Government’s pandemic planning here in New Zealand.

“Despite months passing and avian flu now tapping at Europe’s door, the Government is making no progress in dealing with major gaps in their own pandemic planning,” says Mr Ryall.

“Back in November, National warned that one of the biggest gaps in planning was getting medical care to people being looked after at home.

“There is still no word from the Health Minister on what is going to happen to the many thousands of New Zealanders isolated in their sickbeds.

“There is no plan yet to increase supplies of essential personal medicines such as insulin. If our borders close for weeks or months on end, how will people get these personal medicines?

“And still no single person or agency is responsible for pandemic planning leadership.

“We need a systematic approach, not good luck and a few volunteers.

“These major gaps need to be remedied as soon as possible. The Government needs to take action now, instead of fooling itself with the same old self-congratulatory clap-trap,”says Mr Ryall.

“We don’t know whether an influenza pandemic will come to New Zealand, but we must be prepared.”

ENDS

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