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Pandemic planning too important for politics

25 November 2005

Pandemic planning too important for politics

New Zealand's plans to confront the threat of an influenza pandemic are amongst the best in the world, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

"New Zealanders can be assured that our pandemic planning is well advanced," Pete Hodgson said. "We began planning for a potential influenza pandemic over two years ago."

Pete Hodgson's comments followed the long-expected announcement that drug-maker Roche would temporarily focus its Tamiflu supply efforts on the northern hemisphere winter.

"I'm disturbed that some political parties are trying to score cheap points off the back of the Roche announcement. It belittles the incredible effort that an ever-widening group of New Zealanders have been making to prepare our country for a potential pandemic.

"There's always a price to pay for playing politics with emergency planning.

"The fact is that New Zealand has already stockpiled enough Tamiflu for 21 per cent of the population. That puts us well ahead of countries like the US and the UK and slightly ahead of Australia.

"Planning will continue and planning will intenisfy as the threat of a pandemic firms up. We're still in the planning phase while National and ACT are attacking the management phase for a virus that is yet to emerge. They clearly don't understand this process.

"The opposition are trying to sow confusion for political gain even though they disagree on how to do it. Today National and ACT couldn't even agree on the importance of Tamiflu.

"This issue is too important for their confusion and their scaremongering."


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