Friday, February 26, 2010

COE Hosts Global Pandemic Influenza Workshops

In the event of a global pandemic, militaries around the world would expect to be called upon by governments to support civilian first-responders. In order to maintain this type of readiness, The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) plans to conduct pandemic influenza workshops in 11 countries throughout the Asia Pacific region in conjunction with the US military's Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM).

From Feb. 24 to 26, initial workshops were held bringing together representatives from Asian-Pacific and African militaries. Workshop delegates were focused on putting together a planning guide for militaries and civilian planners in response to a possible influenza pandemic.

The week-long event was part of a workshop series derived from an agreement between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Defense (DoD) designed to improve pandemic influenza (PI) response in the Asia-Pacific and African regions .

"This is the most senior multinational event in the USAID / DOD Pandemic Influenza series worldwide, with representatives from Africa, Asia, UN and US DOD," said Andy Bates, COE lead for the PI workshop series.

The primary focus was to facilitate the creation of guidelines by national governments themselves that can be tailored to their respective countries' needs. Civilian and military leaders from more than 23 Asia-Pacific and 16 African participants, representing government organizations, institutes, and their militaries , attended. Key players included the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), the UN World Food Program (WFP), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) the US Joint Task Force Homeland Defense, USAFRICOM and US NORTHCOM from the North American region.

The COE was established by the US Congress in 1994 to facilitate civil-military management in international disaster management and humanitarian assistance. It partners with a wide variety of national and international governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to provide relevant education, training, coordination and research. COE has coordinated and executed pandemic influenza workshops on behalf of USPACOM in the Asia Pacific since 2007.

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