Interagency Avian and Pandemic Influenza Communication Task Force for the Americas

Dra. Mirta Roses

Given the seriousness of the global threat and working in the framework of the Consolidated Action Plan for Contributions of the UN System, avian influenza and pandemic preparedness have become a permanent fixture on the UN Regional Directors' Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Team agenda.

... My hopes and aspirations for these two days are that we come away with a completed communication framework, one that builds on all our strengths. And that we as a regional once more move ahead, united, victorious...

Dra. Mirta Roses

Mirta Roses Periago, Director
Opening Remarks
24th – 25th July 2006
Venue: PAHO Headquarters, Room B
525 Twenty-Third St. NW, Washington D.C.


Under the overall coordination of PAHO/WHO and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, with FAO, the UN Regional Directors are overseeing, supporting and mobilizing the country-level preparedness and response to avian and human influenza. Other international, regional and inter-American agencies are active and working at different levels in the face of this threat. In contrast to other regions, ours has an opportunity -- before the arrival of the H5N1 virus - to jointly plan and closely coordinate strategic communication, which must play a central role in this process.

This meeting is a continuation of all that we have done together over the last few years. It builds on regional and international agreements and promises.

And today we come together as a family to make decisions, reach consensus, and pursue actions, actions that ultimately will save lives and livelihoods.

We are in the unique position in this Region to be able to plan and move ahead before avian influenza reaches our shores. We cannot waste any time.

We at PAHO have been working with all our Member Countries, and you will hear more about the specifics of our work. The important point is that we already are working with you, our sister agencies, in this work.

Today’s meeting will focus on one of the key pillars of any public health effort – communication.

Given the potential threat of both avian and pandemic influenza, communication plays a crucial role in managing the crisis and avoiding chaos.

We have followed and elaborated on WHO’s guidelines for outbreak communication, calling for trust and transparency. Risk Communication calls for us to acknowledge uncertainty and avoid over reassurance. It demands that we include the public and not just dictate what they should do. And failure to act honestly, timely and empathetically during times of crisis can lead to disaster.

Just last week we had 80 participants from 37 countries here in this same room to train-trainers in risk communication, an important component of any plan.

We are working with nations to create communication strategies and networks. And we are working with the media to bring them on board and to join our efforts.

My hopes and aspirations for these two days are that we come away with a completed communication framework, one that builds on all our strengths. And that we as a regional once more move ahead, united, victorious.


Meeting Information:
-Inter-Agency Communication Framework. Draft for Discussion
-Agenda
-Participants List