Statement to the press by WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan
11 June 2009
World now at the start of 2009 influenza pandemic
Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Ladies and gentlemen,
In late April, WHO announced the emergence of a novel influenza A virus.
This particular H1N1 strain has not circulated previously in humans. The virus is entirely new.
The virus is contagious, spreading easily from one person to another, and from one country to another. As of today, nearly 30,000 confirmed cases have been reported in 74 countries.
This is only part of the picture. With few exceptions, countries with large numbers of cases are those with good surveillance and testing procedures in place.
Spread in several countries can no longer be traced to clearly-defined chains of human-to-human transmission. Further spread is considered inevitable.
I have conferred with leading influenza experts, virologists, and public health officials. In line with procedures set out in the International Health Regulations, I have sought guidance and advice from an Emergency Committee established for this purpose.
On the basis of available evidence, and these expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met.
I have therefore decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6.
Now is the time to follow-up on those good intentions of yours to make sure your swine flu/pandemic illness policy is all that is should be. Things are calming down a bit (although US numbers are rising, cases are mild) and as we might have a bit of calm before the next storm, it is the ideal time to give yourself a policy and training check-up while the topic is fresh.
Do you have a policy for dealing with a community illness that is more than your typical flu season?
Does your policy include detailed information that most anyone in your organization could follow if you were not able to give directions?
Do you know what the local hospitals’ plans and policies are?
Have you clarified roles for each of your clinical and administrative staff and provided them with detailed information on their responsibilities during a community illness?
Do you understand what your practice is required to do to report information to local, state and national authorities?
Have you located resources for or designed patient education materials appropriate for your population?
Have you integrated community illness information into your new employee orientation and your annual staff training materials?
If you answered “no” or “maybe” to any of the questions above, here are some resource links to help you (more…)
The HHS and the CDC have developed lots of widgets that you can place on your practice website to give your patients the latest information on the swine flu. You can get a widget for your practice website from HHS here or from CDC here. These sites also provide podcasts and other resources that you can use to develop your practice protocols and education materials for staff and patients globally for a pandemic illness, or specifically for the A(H1N1) swine influenza illness.
This article will provide resources for three areas:
Protocol for your practice for potential pandemic illness (swine flu or other)
Plan to provide information to your patients about swine flu
Plan for your practice to function during the swine flu or a pandemic illness episode