International Medical Corps is working with the Republic of Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to improve the country’s ability to respond to public health crisis and potential socio-economic disruptions brought on by influenza pandemics and other global disasters.
The multi-sectoral workshop in Tagaytay this week is part of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Pandemic Preparedness project, called PREPARE. The project, being led by International Medical Corps, seeks to strengthen disaster management and pandemic preparedness planning in select Asian and African countries.
With more than 70 participants from the public and private sectors of the Philippines in attendance, the workshop focuses on:
- Guided self‐assessment of current state of pandemic preparedness and, in particular, sector-specific pandemic preparedness
- Foundational materials to understand best practices in business continuity planning in private industry and government
- Development of a sector-specific catalogue of current capabilities, gaps and critical interdependencies
- Creation of a sector planning project roadmap with project milestones
- Essential components of crisis communication and media relations
“The Philippines already has taken important steps to integrate pandemic influenza response plans into its general disaster preparedness plans,” said Dr. Liviu Vedrasco, Chief of Party, International Medical Corps, in his opening remarks at the workshop. “This country has strong potential to become a regional and global leader in the application of the whole-of-society approaches to pandemic preparedness and disaster management overall.”
The “whole-of-society” approach emphasizes the significant roles all sectors of society – beyond the health sector – can play in disaster preparedness. The project brings together national governments, civil society groups, the private sector and communities to plan and test preparedness capabilities and develop a “preparedness meta-toolkit” and training scheme to develop and maintain the capacity needed to deal with a severe influenza pandemic. As a result, target countries like the Philippines will have improved pandemic preparedness strategies that will become an integral part of their national emergency management plans and will effectively cooperate in their planning with the private sector and the providers of essential services.
For more than 25 years, a significant number of International Medical Corps’ responses have included technical assistance for the treatment and control of epidemic diseases. The organization has more than 4,000 field-based staff, including approximately 200 physicians and public health experts, as well as 10 Medical Directors coordinating health interventions worldwide. Throughout 2011, International Medical Corps will draw on its breadth of technical experience to implement additional PREPARE workshops and simulation exercises in Senegal, Indonesia, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Laos, Thailand, Tanzania and India.