Sunday, May 10, 2009

SADC Press Release on Swine Flu & SADC Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Communiqué, Maputo, Mozambique, 29 April 2009

source: Republic of Botswana (9/5/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 13 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"



C13a) SADC PRESS RELEASE ON SWINE FLU


The SADC Ministers responsible for Health note the recent reports of Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreaks in Mexico, United States of America and Canada among others. As SADC Ministers of Health we are concerned by the increase in the number of cases, deaths and the unusual age group affected (healthy young adults). In light of the above, we the SADC Ministers of Health advise as follows:

Travel Precautions:

Unless necessary, all travellers are advised to avoid or postpone travel to affected areas. In the event of travelling to the affected areas travellers should visit their nearest health facility for advice on precautionary measures to be taken. Recent travellers to the affected countries should be on the alert for Flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea, coughing, fatigue, and general feeling of un-wellness, and visit the nearest health facility for immediate attention when such symptoms develop.

Response:

We are working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and our surveillance systems are on high alert. We will continuously monitor the situation and use existing National and Regional Policies and Guidelines for the prevention and control of any outbreak in line with the SADC Highly Pathogenic Avian and Pandemic Human Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan.

As SADC Ministers, we wish to inform the public that all countries within the Region have Epidemic Preparedness and Response Plans and Teams in place. There is no effective vaccine to prevent Swine Flu. However, it is treatable, and a Technical Team is in place to facilitate the availability of treatment in all SADC Countries.

As the SADC region we remain vigilant and committed to prevent and address any potential outbreak in the region.

SADC MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR HEALTH
28 APRIL 2009

C13b) SADC Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Communiqué, Maputo, Mozambique, 29 April 2009

The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating the global response to human cases of Swine Influenza A (H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic. Considering the extent of the outbreak, and noting evidence of increased human-to-human transmission, WHO on the 26th April 2009 increased the level of pandemic alertness from Level 3 to Level 4.

To this end, the SADC Ministers of Health during their meeting held on 28 April 2009 in Maputo, Mozambique, constituted a Special Technical Team of Senior Officials to urgently meet in order to determine the level of preparedness and facilitate the availability of antiviral medication within Member States. The Special Technical Team comprising of Senior Officials from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa met on 28 and 29 April 2009.

The Special Technical Team has determined that a limited stock of antiviral medicines are being held by the WHO-Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO). The medicines can be obtained by submitting a contingency plan indicating the quantities of stock held and required.

In preparation for an epidemic in line with the specific Pandemic Alertness Level, the Special Technical Team recommended the following:

1. Actions at Regional level:

a. Secretariat to determine whether Epidemic Preparedness Plans and Teams are in place in all Member States;
b. Secretariat to facilitate implementation of the SADC Highly Pathogenic Avian and Pandemic Human Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan where plans are not in place;
c. Secretariat to determine the quantities of antiviral medicines and supplies available both at WHO-AFRO and Member States; and
d. Secretariat to facilitate the procurement of antiviral medicines and supplies for Member States.

2. Actions at National Level:

a. Member States, in strengthening their Surveillance Systems, should apply the WHO case definition at Community and Health Care Facility (HCF) level to ensure early detection of cases or deaths caused by Swine Influenza;
b. Member States should mobilize their Outbreak Response Teams (ORT) at national, provincial and district levels to undertake case investigation, rapid reporting to authorities and WHO, and sample collection, and transportation;
c. Member States should ensure that levels of antiviral medicines and supplies are adequate;
d. Member States should ensure prevention of spread of disease, through the isolation of suspected cases and close contacts while cases are investigated;
e. Member States should adhere to Infection Control Measures, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be used according to the risk;
f. Member States should increase Public awareness on risk and risk avoidance, and promote universal personal hygiene behaviours that are essential to the effective management of the outbreak;
g. Member States should ensure availability of stockpiles of essential medicines and supplies, such as antibiotics (oral and IV) for secondary pneumonia, antivirals, Paracetamol, IV fluids/infusion materials, PPE, amongst others;
h. Member States should advise travellers to avoid or postpone travelling to affected areas, unless essential. In the event of travelling to the affected areas travellers should visit their nearest health facility for advice on precautionary measures to be taken. Recent travellers to the affected countries should be on the alert for Flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea, coughing, fatigue, and general feeling of un-wellness, and visit the nearest health facility for immediate attention when such symptoms develop.

As a Region, we remain vigilant and committed to prevent and address any potential outbreak in the region.

SADC SPECIAL TECHNICAL TEAM OF SENIOR OFFICIALS FOR HEALTH, 29 April 2009

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