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Cablegate: Uk Health Protection Agency Proposes Formal

VZCZCXYZ0029
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLO #3657 2641551
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211551Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5524
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0294
RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS LONDON 003657

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

CDC FOR DIRECTOR GERBERDING
CDC FOR CHARLES MILLER AND ROBERT WHITCOMB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PREL UK
SUBJECT: UK HEALTH PROTECTION AGENCY PROPOSES FORMAL
LIAISON WITH U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

REF: LONDON 1534 (AND PREVIOUS)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) Chief
Advisor to the Chief Executive Dr. Nigel Lightfoot proposed
to visiting U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) officials and EmbOffs that a formal liaison be
established between HPA and CDC. During discussions of
lessons learned in response to the November 2006 polonium-210
incident (reftel), Lightfoot also recommended 1) CDC peer
review HPA's "unknown illness" patient diagnosis protocol, 2)
the G7 consider ways to communicate more effectively during a
public health crisis, and 3) practice using the CDC-HPA
communication process during the October TopOff 4 exercise.
END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) On September 14, CDC officials Dr. Charles Miller
and Dr. Robert Whitcomb, accompanied by EmbOffs, met with HPA
officials Dr. Nigel Lightfoot, John Cooper and Neil McColl,
to discuss additional lessons learned from the November 2006
polonium-210 poisoning in London of former KGB officer
Alexander Litvinenko (reftel). Based on the polonium
experience, Lightfoot strongly recommended that a formal
liaison be established between CDC and HPA that would plan
and facilitate peer-to-peer communication during a public
health emergency. Lightfoot suggested a personnel exchange,
a formal communications process, and/or a memorandum of
understanding be established to assist in any future
incidents. HPA Chief Executive Pat Troop reiterated this
request to ESTOff during a event at the annual Health
Protection 2007 conference. Troop said she believes the time
is ripe for a more formal relationship with CDC.

3. (SBU) One of the lessons identified from the polonium
incident, explained HPA officials, was informing public
health officials how to manage and report a patient
experiencing an unknown illness. In response, HPA developed
an "unknown illness" document to assist public health
officials in identifying the underlying problem. Lightfoot
encouraged CDC to use and to comment on the document.

4. (SBU) Given that over 50 nations had citizens who may
have come into contact with polonium-210, a major lesson
identified was how to communicate effectively with other
countries. There are links between HPA and the UK Foreign
and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to share information with
third-country embassies represented in London. In addition,
the FCO is working with Embassies to implement a
password-protected internet application, dubbed Hermes, that
would provide information during a mass casualty crisis.
Lightfoot recommended that further discussion was needed
throughout the international community to address how to
communicate in the event of a crisis. Lightfoot recommended
that the most appropriate forum would be the G7.

5. (SBU) CDC and HPA officials are participating in the
October TopOff 4 exercise, and committed to practice newly
established communication links. On September 14, CDC and
HPA exchanged phone numbers for 24/7 public health duty
officers to facilitate communication in the event of a crisis.

6. (U) This cable has been cleared by CDC.

Visit London's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/london/index. cfm


LeBaron

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