Arkansas Department of Health & Human Services
Influenza Pandemic Summit to Discuss Plans for County Preparedness
(Little Rock--) The current status of Arkansas’ pandemic influenza planning will be discussed at the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health (DOH), Regional Pandemic Influenza Summit on May 19 at the U of A Monticello Gibson University Center in Monticello at 9:30 a.m. This meeting is designed to help counties and local partners with response planning within the communities, organizations, schools and businesses in the event of an influenza pandemic. The summit is co-sponsored by the County Judges Association of Arkansas, the DHHS Division of Health and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
A flu pandemic is a global outbreak that occurs when a new influenza virus causes serious human illness and spreads easily from person to person affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population. A pandemic occurs periodically and public health officials around the world are watching the bird flu situation in Asia very closely because if the virus changes to a human strain, it could be the next pandemic.
Local, state, and city government and community leaders will learn more about the State Pandemic Flu planning process during this one-day conference. The conference will also initiate efforts to assess preparedness levels of communities for pandemic flu. Participants will return home equipped with the knowledge and tools to mobilize local leaders to plan and prepare for pandemic flu.
Dr. Paul Halverson, Director, Division of Health, says, “We don’t want to wait until we see the first cases of pandemic influenza arriving here in our state to ready ourselves. The time to develop response capacity is now, before people begin getting sick. An effective response requires coordination and collaboration at all levels of government as well as with community partners like business, faith, and community-based organizations, health care providers and others. Katrina taught everyone a valuable lesson. The time to begin working with one another is before the levees break.”
For ongoing updates in both preparing for and reacting to a pandemic go to the federal government’s pandemic-related website: www.pandemicflu.gov. For more information on the Regional Pandemic Influenza Summit, please call Jean Hagerman at 501-681-4764.