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WHO seeks New Zealand help for pandemic planning

24 February 2006

WHO seeks New Zealand help for pandemic planning

New Zealand's work to plan for a possible flu pandemic will be used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a model to guide the planning efforts of other countries, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

The WHO will use the Ministry of Health's public awareness campaign material – including brochures and broadcast advertising – to help other governments develop similar campaigns.

"New Zealand has been far ahead of most countries in acting to prepare the public for a possible flu pandemic," Pete Hodgson said. "It's great news that our efforts will also be of use to governments around the world who are dealing with some of the same issues we're confronting here in New Zealand."

Over the past few months there have been a series of awareness-raising activities in New Zealand on what steps people can take to prepare. Next month there will be another multi-media push including a mail drop and a TV and radio advertising campaign.

The Ministry's public awareness campaign came to the attention of the WHO's Tunis-based Mediterranean Centre for Vulnerability Reduction (MCVR) – the agency responsible for advising developing countries on strategies for preparing their populations for the possibility of a flu pandemic.

The Ministry has provided the MCVR with copies of all public awareness material which will now be put to use in a number of developing countries.

New Zealand will also have an opportunity to show international leadership on pandemic planning during the World Health Organisation Regional Committee Meeting in September. It will be the first meeting of the 37 Western Pacific member states to be held in New Zealand since 1973.

The WHO’s Regional Director, Dr Shigeru Omi is visiting New Zealand on 27 February 2006 to sign a hosting agreement with the Director General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi. During his visit, Dr Omi will be giving a strategic presentation on the Western Pacific Regional Office’s role and pandemic planning.

ENDS

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