Pandemic Flu: Current Threat And Development Of A Preparedness Framework
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Experts agree that an influenza pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent, since the highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus is mutating rapidly, is affecting new hosts, and is expanding its geographic range. Should an influenza strain emerge that spreads easily among humans, the World Health Organization predicts that ‘all countries will be affected, widespread illness will occur, medical supplies will be inadequate, large numbers of deaths will occur, and economic and social disruption will be great’. On January 19, 2006, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned of the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the Avian Influenza virus unless the international community pulled together in a massive effort to combat the virus. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security et al., appealed to the American business community on December 6, 2005, to prepare. However, only 15% of large American companies had a bird-flu plan, according to a survey in March 2006, by human capital and financial management consultancy Watson Wyatt Worldwide. A June 2006, survey by The Conference Board of Canada showed that 80% of respondents’ executives were concerned about the impact of a pandemic on their organization, but only 4% had developed a preparedness plan. Today we have an unprecedented opportunity to prepare for a pandemic, and to reduce economic and social impacts, cases, hospitalizations and deaths. This paper will therefore develop a framework for pandemic preparedness for organizations, including employee health and welfare, ethical and legal issues, business continuity, and partnerships with government and civil society. Keywords: pandemic influenza, pandemic preparedness, laws, regulations and ethical issues, business continuity.
pandemic influenza, pandemic preparedness, laws, regulations and ethical issues, business continuity.