Pandemic preparations underway in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Equipping governments in the crucial role of public information during a health crisis.
GENEVA, 25 September 2007 – Six countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are undergoing preparations over the next three months in handling crisis communications in the events of a pandemic.
The training programme, conducted by UNICEF, is being funded by the Government of Japan as part of its million dollar ‘bird flu’ package for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States(CEE/CIS).
“We thank the Government of Japan for supporting this initiative” – UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
“Preparedness is vital to contain and confront a pandemic of avian influenza. Plans for the effective management of communication are one of the most important aspects of preparing,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS). “We thank the Government of Japan for supporting this initiative.”
The three-day seminars for government ministry officials are to be held in Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Romania and Serbia. The aim is to support governments in establishing clear internal and external communication mechanisms as part of any health emergency response system. The content of the seminars has been developed in partnership with the World Health Organisation.
“In this situation, people will need to have access to easy-to-understand information to avoid catching pandemic influenza and possibly losing their lives. Bad information on the other hand can contribute to panic and even cause death,” said Ms Calivis.
UNICEF urges transparency, accuracy and timeliness when seeking to protect people from a pandemic threat.
This is the second round of the same symposia, following the success in Albania, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Tajikistan.
The Avian Influenza virus H5N1, which re-emerged among birds in the Czech Republic, Germany, France and Russia in recent months, still casts a potential threat of human pandemic as it may adopt to become contagious among humans. Since 2003, 200 people around the world have died as a result of the spread of H5N1.
UNICEF is on the ground in more than 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For more information, please contact:
UNICEF Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States Communication Officer, Mervyn Fletcher, on +41 79 666 8831