The federal government needs to take a lead in directing state and local health departments to prepare for an avian flu pandemic, says Greg Evans, PhD, director of the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University School of Public Health.
Health and Human Services, along with the Department of Homeland Security, should develop guidelines that the states can adapt to their unique situations, Evans says. Then states and local governments should develop response plans for their communities and that these should be provided to the federal government to share with all parties involved.
Evans says that while President Bushs pandemic plan is a good start, more funding is needed for specific aspects of avian flu preparedness.
The federal government must put more money into the development of new techniques for rapid development and manufacturing of vaccines and antivirals, he says. More money should be provided to state and local health departments to develop emergency pandemic plans not just for the current H4N1 threat, but also for yet unknown pandemics.
The government must do more to provide public education. There will be a period of time that vaccines will not be available after the start of the pandemic, and it will only be through public education, the isolation of diseased people and the quarantine of potentially exposed people that we will be able to slow down the spread of the epidemic until vaccines can become available.
The Saint Louis University Institute for Biosecurity was established in 2000 to provide public health and emergency response professionals with the education needed for preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation of emerging public health threats. Faculty and staff at the Institute conduct research that contributes to the development of national policies to address these threats.