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Are We Prepared for Flu Pandemic?

the US.

During that period, nonpharmacological interventions are called for. As Dr. Stephen S. Morse of the Department of Epidemiology and Center for Public Health Preparedness of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, the science that underlies nonpharmacological interventions is very “thin.” Experts do not even know if flu transmission from person to person is by airborne “large droplets or fine particles.” Or if hand washing that’s effective against rhinoviruses is equally effective against the H5N1 virus.

But effective or not, nonpharmacological interventions have the undoubted value of alerting the population to preventive measures and ensuring a defense until the vaccine arrives.

As Dr. Morse pointed out the often-neglected area between the protection of persons and the community is what he called the “excluded middle”—public buildings, work places, shopping areas and homes. Immediate attention should be given to them because it’s not possible to prevent people from moving about in the early stages of a pandemic.

A national preparedness plan should be detailed and clear in the interphasing of the components of the plan of action.

Perhaps these tasks are too much for overloaded agencies like the DOH and the DA. The President is well advised to transfer this responsibility to another agency that has the technical, financial and enforcement means.

Until all this is done we cannot claim to have a national avian-flu preparedness plan.

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