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Pandemic awareness advertising starts tonight

15 March 2006

Pandemic awareness advertising starts tonight

The next steps in the government's efforts to prepare New Zealand for a possible flu pandemic begin today with the start of a major public awareness campaign, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said.

The campaign kicks off this evening with a series of television ads on TV 1, TV 2 and TV 3 in addition to the start of radio advertising on stations across the country. Advertising on Maori and Pacific radio and television will begin early next week and will coincide with a mail-out to 1.4 million households.

Pete Hodgson said that although awareness is high – with nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders having already seen information on pandemic preparedness – less than one-third of people have actually taken steps to prepare.

"The health community has done a good job at getting information out to New Zealand families," Pete Hodgson said.

"But the next step is much harder – we now need to convince New Zealanders to take simple steps to make sure they're as ready as they can be for a possible flu pandemic."

The advertising that begins today focuses on four basic public health messages:

- The need to have a plan for the care of friends and family
- The need to build an emergency kit
- Proper coughing and sneezing techniques
- The importance of thorough hand washing and drying

"We can't be certain that the current spread of bird flu around the world will lead to a human flu pandemic. But we do know we'll be much better prepared if we all start building up supplies and start practicing good hygiene today."

The public awareness campaign will run through March and April and costs just over $1 million.

ENDS

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