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Saskatchewan Releases Updated Pandemic Plan
Saskatchewan residents interested in the province’s preparations for spread of the H1N1 influenza can now find the updated preparedness plan on the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health’s website.The plan was first developed in 2001 as jurisdictions around the world heeded notice from the World Health Organization that a pandemic influenza was likely within a few years. Saskatchewan’s updated plan incorporates the latest information specific to H1N1, the virus that reached pandemic levels in the spring.
The 2009 Saskatchewan Health Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan outlines the roles and responsibilities of federal, provincial and local authorities in a co-ordinated response to the expected resurgence of H1N1 in the province this fall and winter.
The plan’s key elements address:
• Co-ordination of communications and emergency response within the province;
• Continuity of health services during periods of increased demand on the system;
• Prevention and control of the spread of influenza;
• Public heath measures that could be implemented to slow the spread of the disease;
• Distribution and administration of vaccines and/or antiviral medications; and
• Preparedness and pandemic response within First Nations communities.
The 2009 pandemic plan was developed in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Saskatchewan regional health authorities and other key provincial partners. It will be updated periodically as new information about H1N1 comes to light.
“The most important information we can provide Saskatchewan people is how to protect themselves from influenza, and how to care for themselves and their families if infection occurs,” Health Minister Don McMorris said. “At the same time, our province’s residents want to know that the health system and their local and provincial authorities are prepared in the event that a pandemic influenza has an impact on their communities.”
On Thursday and Friday, McMorris is meeting with federal, provincial and territorial health ministers in Winnipeg to discuss a number of health-related topics, including vaccine sequencing and other H1N1-related issues.
The Government of Saskatchewan has allocated $33 million to cover the estimated cost of H1N1 vaccine, masks and other materials that may be required in the event of an outbreak of the virus. McMorris indicated the province is prepared to spend more if necessary, and said that estimate does not include H1N1-related expenditures by other government ministries.
Government-wide preparations include a strategy for timely and consistent information sharing with the public and key stakeholder groups, a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities in the event of more serious disruption caused by influenza, and ensuring that all ministries, Crowns and affiliated agencies have updated pandemic plans to make certain that critical business functions are maintained.
A special cabinet committee chaired by Health Minister Don McMorris has been established to oversee the pandemic preparations in government and Crowns.
Along with an overview and full version of Saskatchewan’s pandemic preparedness plan, Saskatchewan residents can find information about infection prevention and self-care at www.health.gov.sk.ca Additional information is available at www.fightflu.ca or by calling HealthLine at 1-877-800-0002.
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