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Campaign blitz to inform Maori

Campaign blitz to inform Maori

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Maori will be targeted as part of a million dollar advertising campaign to boost their awareness around the importance of preparing for an influenza pandemic.

The advertising starts on Iwi radio today followed closely behind with a six-week campaign on Maori Television.

Associate Minister of Health Mita Ririnui says we know that Iwi radio attracts a weekly listening audience of 260-thousand people, which when combined with the mainstream campaign will ensure widespread coverage.

"Pandemic awareness is reasonably high but it's not enough. It's important all Maori know how to cope in such a situation," says Mita Ririnui.

"There has been some discussion around public gatherings and it's role in spreading illness and our people need to know how they can look after themselves and whanau in an influenza pandemic. This advertising campaign will emphasise the steps people can take to help keep healthy.

"At some point Maori will need to make the decision for themselves about attending tangi and gatherings during a pandemic. We will be providing information to help with these discussions," says Mita Ririnui.

The messages are:

· Wash and dry hand thoroughly: before preparing food and eating; after coughing or sneezing, blowing noses, wiping children's noses, visiting the toilet or looking after sick people. · Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and put used tissues in a lined bin that is either unlidded or pedal operated. Wash your hands afterwards. · Have a basic emergency supplies kit in case you have to stay home sick, or look after someone who is sick.

Background.

In the last 100 years there have been three pandemics of influenza, which killed millions of people worldwide. Although neither the exact timing nor severity of a future pandemic can be predicted, it is certain that we need to be ready for it.

There is a strong international approach being taken to monitor developments which may lead up to a pandemic and provide advice on appropriate steps to prepare for and limit the risk of spread, should a pandemic develop.

A considerable amount of planning has been done by Government agencies. Already the Government has secured a stockpile of the anti-viral, Tamiflu, equivalent to a treatment course for 21 per cent of the population.

The Government, through the Ministry of Health, has also secured a contract to supply 8 million doses of pandemic vaccine. Vaccine production cannot start however, until the pandemic begins and the pandemic virus is itself identified. That means a targeted vaccine won't be immediately available.

In a pandemic, the vast majority of people who get pandemic influenza will not experience complications and can safely and effectively recover at home.

During a pandemic, basic messages around the importance of hygiene will need to be continually reinforced with both patients and those caring for them.

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

ENDS


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