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Pandemic preparations underway in Serbia with Japanese support

© UNICEF Serbia / 2007
Ms. Judita Reichenberg, UNICEF Area Representative, H.E. Tomica Milosavljevic, Minister of Health of the Republic of Serbia, H.E. Tadashi Nagai, Ambassador of Japan and Mr. Lance Clark, UN Resident Coordinator, at the opening ceremony in Belgrade.

The governments of Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are undergoing preparations for handling crisis communication in the event of a health crisis.

Belgrade, 27 November 2007 – In cooperation with the Ministry of Health of Serbia and thanks to the generous contribution of the Government of Japan, UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS and UNICEF Serbia Office began today a three day high-level symposium on crisis communication and media relations in a health emergency with special focus on pandemic influenza.

“A crisis communication plan must be ready before a crisis emerges. If we wait until the crisis begins, we are late. Communication in a crisis situation should be a strengthened system of the regular channels and means of communication that we already must have,” said Minister of Health H.E. Mr. Tomica Milosavljevic at the opening ceremony.

During this three day symposium facilitated by UK-based Thompson Foundation, government officials will discuss priority principles of communication in health emergencies and the need to build trust, avoid panic and empower individuals to take appropriate actions to minimize the effects of the pandemic and save lives.

UNICEF urges transparency, accuracy and timeliness when communicating and to avoid temptations to suppress information.

“The impact of planned government response to health emergency, including the establishment of communication system, cannot be underestimated. Suitably planned system to deal with international as well as local media is essential part of the Government’s preparedness plan,” said UNICEF Area Representative Ms. Judita Reichenberg. “We thank the Government of Japan for making this preparation possible.”

© UNICEF Serbia / 2007
Opening of the “Learning symposium on crisis communication and media relations during a national health emergency with focus on pandemic influenza” in Belgrade on 27 November, 2007.

As part of the Japanese Government’s  financial ‘bird flu’ package for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS), training seminars have been held in Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Armenia, and Romania since September this year. The last in the row for this year is the symposium in Belgrade for Serbian and FYR Macedonian government representatives.

“Since 2006, the Government of Japan has provided 222 million US dollars for fight against Avian and Pandemic influenza around the world. Out of this amount, 62 million US dollars was disbursed to UNICEF. This contribution is aimed at awareness campaign and improvement of communication method, which includes 12 symposia organized by UNICEF in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This symposium is one of them, ” H.E. Mr. Tadashi Nagai, the Ambassador of Japan to Serbia said.

For more information, please contact:
Jadranka Milanovic, Communication Officer, UNICEF Serbia
Tel. (+381) 11 3602-100



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