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TOP FEDERAL OFFICIALS JOIN STATE OFFICIALS AT MICHIGAN PANDEMIC PLANNING SUMMIT

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

April 25, 2006

Acknowledging that pandemics happen and require a strong local response, Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Deputy Secretary Alex Azar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today addressed federal, state and local public health officials and business and community leaders about pandemic flu preparedness. Deputy Secretary Azar and Governor Granholm also signed a planning resolution committing the commonwealth and federal governments to planning efforts. Deputy Secretary Azar is in Michigan as part of a national tour of states, as the federal government prepares the country for a potential influenza pandemic.

“Pandemics are global in nature, but their effects are always local, so I am pleased that Governor Granholm is taking a leadership role to prepare Michigan for this threat,” Deputy Secretary Azar said. “Pandemic planning needs to address how schools, businesses, public agencies, faith-based organizations and others participate in pandemic preparedness. With this meeting, local officials can identify needs specific to Michigan communities and begin crucial coordination to assure readiness if a pandemic outbreak strikes.”

“A coordinated response to pandemic influenza will require cooperation at all levels – and we are pleased to have a federal acknowledgement of that shared commitment,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “We want to ensure that the people of Michigan are protected and the Michigan Departments of Community Health, Agriculture, and Natural Resources are continuing their important work – begun in 2002 – to ensure the state is ready to respond to the challenge of pandemic influenza.”

Deputy Secretary Azar and MDCH Director Janet Olszewski – on behalf of Governor Granholm – signed a planning resolution during the summit, officially agreeing to prepare the state for the possibility of a pandemic influenza. In the planning resolution, HHS committed to provide guidance and technical assistance to Michigan in addition to an initial $2,951,805 of financial assistance for planning. HHS also agreed to review the state’s plans for use, storage and distribution of antivirals and notify it of its portion of the federal stockpile of pandemic influenza antiviral drugs. Michigan agreed to assure that its operational plan for pandemic influenza response is an integral element of the overall state and local emergency response plan and to establish a Pandemic Preparedness Coordinating Committee representing all relevant stakeholders. The state will also exercise its preparedness plan within six months of today’s summit.

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt initially outlined a series of in-state summits to address pandemic preparedness on December 5. Invited guests included first responders, business leaders, educators, health care providers, faith-based organizations, volunteer agencies, policy makers and others.

According to Leavitt, the in-state summits will help the public health and emergency response community in each state inform and involve their political, economic and community leadership in this process. Secretary Leavitt and other top HHS officials will participate in the meetings over the next few months.

Pandemicflu.gov presents all federal avian and pandemic information in one consolidated website. The site, managed by HHS, features links to international and state and local government websites. Planning checklists are provided for the following:

· State and local government;

· Business;

· Individuals and families;

· Schools;

· Health care providers; and

· Community organizations, including faith-based organizations

Due to public interest in avian flu, the Michigan Department of Community Health included a panel of experts who discussed how state agencies work together to monitor and plan for the possibility of avian flu in Michigan.

More information on pandemic flu readiness is available at www.pandemicflu.gov.

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