Introducing ready ..or not?
Following in the footsteps of the highly successful Pandemic Flu Awareness Week, we present you with a series called Ready ..or not?
In regular intervals, we are going to turn the spotlight on the pandemic preparedness plans and the avian influenza information material (fact sheets, brochures, leaflets, posters, videos and the like) published by governments and public health authorities of a single country or jurisdiction.
As always, we call on the Flu Wiki community to add to our knowledge pool and to fill the gaps in our list of sources and links. We would like you to familiarise yourself with these materials and leave your comments, guided by a simple set of questions:
What are the strong points and what are the weak points of these materials? Are they detailed? Are they easy to understand? Are they practical? Are they workable? What issues are not being addressed, what is missing from the preparedness plan or from the educational materials? Can you pinpoint factual mistakes?
Furthermore, we would like to call on local residents to provide the Flu Wiki’s global audience with a close-up look at the preparations and their effectiveness in the context of their own community. Have the communications of your government or public health agencies reached you at home or at the work place? What is your estimate of the levels of awareness in your community?
Two more things - please take your time and make up your mind before you comment. Consider this is a long-term project. Remember, all wiki pages remain under permanent review by the entire community. Every week, we will add a new page with preparedness plans and educational material from a different country or jurisdiction, allowing us to build, over time, a comprehensive body of joint commentary and discussion.
The principal goal of the series is to foster a debate around community preparedness and not individual preparedness. In other words, we would like to find ways to better communicate the risks and improve cooperation within communities in order to prepare them for and cope with a pandemic. We are not looking for advice on what goods to stockpile for personal consumption (please see our Personal and Family Preparedness section for more on this).
Finally, we would like to remind everyone that it is not the Flu Wiki’s purpose to substitute for professional medical care (see our medical disclaimer for more details) or to compete with public health agencies and the scientific community over the authoritativeness or accuracy of their statements (or lack thereof).
However, we believe that no one, in any health department, government agency or in the science community knows all the things needed to cope with an influenza pandemic. Consequently, we submit these efforts to the collective scrutiny of the ever growing number of visitors and contributors here at the Flu Wiki. Let us learn from each other and produce the knowledge we need to get our communities prepared.
As you would expect, we kick off with an exceptional case — a hybrid. Hong Kong, a ‘Special Administrative Region’ of China, has its own government, its own currency, its own immigration laws and its own legal and public health systems. Although part of China, it is essentially a city-state. It is also one of East Asia’s major trading ports and centers of finance and thus a gateway to the rest of the world. What’s more, it is located in the region where most human cases of highly pathogenic influenza have occurred so far and that has the longest experience in dealing with the H5N1 virus.
To get the discussion started, we would like to refer you to the WHO’s checklist for influenza preparedness.