Health Canada

Health Canada

June 08, 2007 08:00 ET

Minister Clement Commends APEC Health Ministers on Pandemic Preparedness Action Plan

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwire - June 8, 2007) - The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, welcomed the progress made to date on the APEC Action Plan on the Response to Avian and human Pandemics while attending the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Health Ministers' Meeting in Sydney, Australia. The Action Plan was developed by Canada and other APEC nations, as a way to help mitigate the dire consequences that could result from a disease outbreak.

"We recognise it would be dangerous to assume that because there is no current global pandemic outbreak, that the job is done," Minister Clement said. "At our meeting, we committed to increasing our joint efforts and to building on our current infrastructure to address all events that could potentially threaten our collective health security."

Canada and Vietnam presented an update on the implementation of the Action Plan on the Prevention and Response to Avian and Influenza Pandemic, to representatives of other APEC member economies.

Risk Communications is a process in which stakeholders are engaged in the process resolving risk issues and significant contributors to it. Communications decisions are made in conjunction with Operations decisions, not after the fact; messages are tested to ensure clarity, and results are monitored and evaluated.

"Our experience with SARS helped Canada understand the importance of Risk Communications," the Minister noted. "Now, we're sharing what we've learned with other APEC Ministers, in the hope that our efforts can aid others. In a pandemic situation, it is critical that governments provide consistent and coherent health information to ensure that people have all the necessary information to respond appropriately."

This two-day meeting of APEC Health Ministers provided opportunities to discuss ways to increase cooperation, coordination and collaboration on serious public health issues that could affect the estimated 2.6 billion people in the Asia Pacific region. The Health Ministers also endorsed the APEC Functioning Economies in Times of Pandemic Guidelines as a pivotal step in acknowledging the importance of improving regional capacity and ensuring appropriate emergency management and response planning.

During the meeting, Health Ministers agreed that responses to health threats should be structured so as to ensure a minimal impact on international travel and trade, while engaging all sectors of the economy in preventing future outbreaks.

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