Health Protection Agency coordinates EU Pandemic Influenza Exercise
Officials in command centres across Europe will react to imaginary scenarios, which will be fed to them via the EU\'s Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) and via EU-wide teleconferences. The exercise, called Common Ground, which was requested by the European Commission, will not involve any ?real world? mobilisation of emergency services and healthcare staff. It will be command centre and desk-based.
National public health authorities - including UK representatives, the European Commission, EU agencies such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and representatives of the vaccine and pharmaceutical industry will take part in the two day exercise. The planning for this began in January 2005.
The aim of Exercise Common Ground is to rehearse decision-making on issues including public health measures, implications of a pandemic for healthcare and other essential public services and coordination of information. A particular focus will be to explore the ability of national and EU level authorities to oversee the Europe-wide response and share information quickly and effectively.
Professor Pat Troop, Chief Executive of the Agency, said: ?The risks of pandemic ?flu are real and co-operation across borders will be critical in reducing the impact on people\'s health. That is why exercises like this are so important in rehearsing preparedness and response. I am delighted that the HPA has been selected to design, develop and deliver this exercise for the European Commission to test Europe \'s ability to co-ordinate the response to an influenza pandemic. I feel confident that Member States, the Commission, industry and all those who will take part will find the exercise useful and instructive. I know that any learning from this exercise can only help us to equip ourselves still better for an effective response, should the anticipated human pandemic cross our borders?
This exercise is one of two pan European exercises being held to look at health preparedness in the European Union. The first has the scenario of a series of major disease outbreaks across Europe and the second features pandemic flu.
The dates of the exercise and details of the scenarios are not being publicly announced in order to make it as realistic as possible. A media briefing will be organised by the Commission shortly after the pandemic exercise.
1. The Department of Health has funded the HPA to develop and run a series of exercises to test the preparedness of the UK with regard to public health related issues. These exercises test contingency plans and help identify improved ways of working, to ensure that a wide range of organisations are ready to respond to health emergencies.
2. The Health Protection Agency is currently coordinating many different activities that together contribute towards UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness including:
? Maintaining regular links with European colleagues including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the newly established European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).
? Updating of the Agency\'s pandemic influenza plan so it is in line with the new WHO phases.
? Co-ordinating the overall public health response to a pandemic
? Developed and currently rolling testing capability so regional laboratories are able to test for influenza H5.
? Regularly updating an algorithm for returning travellers, to ensure health professionals know the signs and symptoms to look out for in returning travellers.
? Development of a mechanism to enable daily monitoring of those affected in a flu pandemic.
? Working on potential vaccine strains to ensure a vaccine can be developed as quickly as possible once we know the pandemic strain.
For further information on avian influenza click here.
The DH websites also contains information on pandemic influenza
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