- International Medical Corps translates Whole-of-Society readiness approach into action with a conference on pandemic preparedness in Tanzania.
- Funded by USAID, Pandemic Preparedness Project, or PREPARE, brings together different sectors of society in target countries like Tanzania to develop national pandemic preparedness strategies.
International Medical Corps and the Tanzania Disaster Management Department are conducting a multi-sectoral workshop in the United Republic of Tanzania this week, as part of a comprehensive program to improve the country’s capacity to respond to public health crisis and potential socio-economic disruptions brought on by influenza pandemics and other global disasters.
The workshop 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 African and Asian countries.
With more than 60 participants from the public and private sectors of Tanzania in attendance, the workshop focuses on the following areas:
- 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 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
“We hope and anticipate that the collegial, multisectoral engagement at this planning event will begin the formulation of draft preparedness frameworks in each essential sector of Tanzanian society, driven by a strong national commitment at all levels of key government and non-government institutions,” said Nicholas Studzinski, Senior Public Health Advisor at USAID, in his opening remarks at the workshop.
PREPARE emphasizes the “Whole-of-Society” approach, with significant roles to be played by all sectors of society beyond the health sector. 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 Tanzania 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.
“Due to numerous factors, the advancements in pandemic preparedness over the last five years – partly because of the mildness of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic – could soon be lost in many countries,” says Dr. Liviu Vedrasco, PREPARE’s Chief of Party. “If preparedness and planning systems are allowed to slowly fade away, the consequences of a severe pandemic could be catastrophic. The PREPARE program is a living example of how investing in pandemic preparedness in a way that engages the entire society can extend beyond pandemic preparedness and into readiness for other emergencies.”
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, Philippines and India.