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WHO Media Advisory

International Organizations and IAEA Member States To Test Emergency Plans

Geneva, July 8, 2008 (WHO)—In an effort to strengthen public health emergency response, the World Health Organization (WHO) will take part in a test of radiation emergency plans through a simulated accident at the Laguna Verde Nuclear power plant, Mexico, 9-10 July 2008. This exercise is coordinated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is being carried out in co-operation with 74 IAEA Member States and nine international organizations in order to test national and international preparedness to respond to a nuclear or radiological emergency.

In this exercise WHO will be testing in particular its Strategic Health Operations Centre and the Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN) as key tools of WHO's activities for public health risk detection, assessment and response under the umbrellas of the two Emergency Conventions and the International Health Regulations (IHR-2005). In particular, the WHO Regional Office for Americas (AMRO/PAHO) and the WHO Country Office in Mexico are expected to interact with the National IHR Focal Point of Mexico to test communication channels under the IHR.

Exercises of the international plan, called the "Joint Radiation Emergency Management Plan", are conducted every few years so that the IAEA, its Member States and international organizations can test preparedness for working cooperatively to respond effectively to an actual nuclear or radiological emergency or incident.

This exercise is focused primarily on testing communication networks and international assistance mechanisms.This exercise will provide an opportunity for WHO, its participating collaborating centres and WHO Regional Office in the America's to test critical elements of public health emergency response, including communications, coordination of activities within WHO, with IAEA as well as with other international agencies.

The exercise is only a simulation and there are no actual risks or hazards to the general public.

The exercise preparation is being coordinated by the Working Group on Coordinated International Exercises as part of the Inter-Agency Committee for Response to Nuclear Accidents (IACRNA). For this exercise the group comprises of the IAEA, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Mexico and its neighboring countries.

For further information, please contact:

, Media Relations Officer, Health Security and Environment, Tel: + 41 22 791 3576, Mobile +41 79 701 9467, Fax. +41 22 791 4721.

, Advocacy & Communications Officer, Public Health and Environment, WHO, Geneva, Tel. +4122 - 7914475, Mobile +4179 445 1624, Fax: +4122 791 4127.

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