Acknowledging that pandemics happen and require a strong local response, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Secretary Mike Leavitt of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Monday addressed federal, state and local public health officials, business and community leaders and the public about pandemic flu preparedness.
They also signed a planning resolution committing the state and federal governments to planning efforts. Secretary Leavitt is in Tennessee as part of a national tour of states, as the federal government prepares the country for a potential influenza pandemic.
“Pandemics are global in nature but their effects are always local, so I am pleased that Gov. Bredesen is taking a leadership role to prepare Tennessee for this threat,” Secretary Leavitt said.
“Pandemic planning needs to address how schools, businesses, public agencies, faith-based organizations and others participate in pandemic preparedness. With this meeting, local officials can identify needs specific to Tennessee communities and begin crucial coordination to assure readiness if a pandemic outbreak strikes.”
”Tennessee will be prepared in the event we are confronted with a pandemic outbreak and this conference and planning are important parts of our preparation,” said Gov. Bredesen. “I am pleased with how our state has responded to this and other emergency preparedness issues. Whether it is pandemic flu, tornadoes or an earthquake, our ability to respond effectively in an emergency requires a good plan and clear lines of communications at all level.”
Secretary Leavitt and Gov. Bredesen signed a planning resolution during the summit, agreeing to prepare the state for the possibility of a pandemic influenza. In the planning resolution, HHS committed to providing guidance and technical assistance to Tennessee and provided an initial $1,921,423 of financial assistance for planning.
Also, HHS agreed to review the state’s plans for use, storage and distribution of antivirals and notify it of its portion of the federal stockpile of pandemic influenza antiviral drugs.
Tennessee agreed to assure that its operational plan for pandemic influenza response is an integral element of the overall state and local emergency response plan. Tennessee has already established a
Pandemic Preparedness Coordinating Committee representing all relevant stakeholders, which has been meeting to update the state’s pandemic plan, due to be completed in May. The state will also exercise its preparedness plan within 12 months of today’s summit.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt outlined a series of in-state summits to address pandemic preparedness on December 5. Invited guests include first responders, business leaders, educators, health care providers, faith-based organizations, volunteer agencies, policy makers and others.
The in-state summits will help the public health and emergency response community in each state inform and involve their political, economic and community leadership in this process. Secretary Leavitt and other top HHS officials will participate in the meetings over the next few months.
Pandemicflu.gov presents all federal avian and pandemic information in one consolidated website. The site, managed by HHS, features links to international and state and local government websites. Planning checklists are provided for the following:
- State and local government;
- Individuals and families;
- Health care providers; and
- Community organizations, including faith-based organizations
More information on pandemic flu readiness is available at www.pandemicflu.gov.