New database for public health planners

Sept. 24, 2007 at 4:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and the Pew Center on the States released an influenza pandemic database.

In an effort to better inform public health planners about the potential of an influenza pandemic, CIDRAP and the Pew Center on the States, a division of the Pew Charitable Trusts, released a Web-based resource called Pandemic Practices.

With more than 130 peer-reviewed promising practices from four countries, 22 states and 33 counties, the Web site brings together best practices as a resource to help communities save time and resources and enable public health professionals to build on their own pandemic plans by learning from each other.

"The federal government has a national plan in place for a flu epidemic," said Jim O'Hara, managing director of Health and Human Services Policy at The Pew Charitable Trusts, in a statement. "But that plan will be useless unless states and local communities are ready and able to handle a public health emergency on the ground.

"Communities across the country are facing the challenge of translating broad requirements into local action, often with limited resources. This database is an excellent tool to help public health officials inform their own pandemic planning and may save valuable time and resources that would be spent crafting strategies from scratch."

Officials estimate that the seasonal flu hospitalizes more than 200,000 and kills approximately 36,000 Americans. Additionally, in a recent report on the potential financial impact of an influenza pandemic, there could be up to $4.4 trillion global cost.

"It is crucial that states, counties and cities continually enhance their preparedness for pandemic influenza," said Michael Osterholm CIDRAP director. "This online database represents an important step by providing concrete, peer-reviewed materials to further public health preparedness."

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