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UNICEF, Government of Japan Help Strengthen Armenian Government’s Preparedness for Pandemic Flu

© UNICEF/Armenia 2007/Igor Dashevskiy
(from left): Levon Rukhkyan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on AI, Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Armenia, Takeshi Hikihara, Economic Minister of the Embassy of Japan to Russia and Armenia

YEREVAN, 6 November 2007 – Over thirty senior governmental officials from a cross section of ministries and government agencies convened today to learn how to effectively relay key public messages during emergencies affecting public health.

The three-day symposium that brings together representatives from the ministries of health, agriculture, territorial administration, the Armenian Rescue Service as well as international agencies was organized by UNICEF through generous support from the Government of Japan, and in close collaboration with the Armenian Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response.

"The Government of Japan attaches great importance to this seminar as we know how important collaboration between media and governmental agencies is during emergencies. We are glad that we are able to help governments in this region to better prepare for a possible pandemic flu," Takeshi Hikihara, Economic Minister of the Embassy of Japan to Russia and Armenia said.

"This symposium on crisis communication and media relations during national health emergencies is being held in times when the world is facing the threat of Avian and Pandemic influenza, and governments throughout the world are working hard to put in place national preparedness plans to confront this challenge," UNICEF Representative in Armenia, Sheldon Yett said in his opening remarks.

The objective of this symposium is to equip senior governmental officials and spokespersons with essential skills and strategies for communicating key messages to local and international media during health emergencies.

"Rumors and misleading information can be as dangerous as an emergency itself as they may aggravate the impact of an emergency on populations. Information provided to affected populations in a timely and coordinated manner can save lives and prompt people to respond to consequences of an emergency in a proper way," Levon Rukhkyan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and chair of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Avian Influenza said, adding that having a firm communication strategy in place "greatly increases the likelihood that the media coverage of the outbreak will be responsible and contribute positively to emergency response efforts."

This year similar seminars for government officials have already been held in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan and Serbia.

UNICEF established its presence in Armenia in 1994. UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to meet their full potential.

 

For more information, please contact:

Emil Sahakyan, Communication Officer

Tel.: (374 10) 52 35 46

Fax.: (374 10) 54 38 10

E-mail: esahakyan@unicef.org

 

 
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