Date Published: 21 February 2007

Influenza pandemic preparedness exercise in New Zealand (NZ)

Health News from New Zealand

The New Zealand Ministry of Health has released the key findings of a major exercise held last year to test pandemic preparedness.

Exercise Makgill aimed to assess the health sector’s ability to respond to the initial stages of an influenza (flu) pandemic event in New Zealand.

New Zealand National Coordinator of Pandemic Planning, Steve Brazier, said that the exercise was carried out over a twelve hour period on 9 November 2006 and involved staff from the Ministry of Health, 21 District Health Boards (DHBs), public health services and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).

"Overall, Exercise Makgill was a success", said Steve Brazier.

" An evaluation of the exercise found that all participants contributed a high level of engagement which enabled the exercise to achieve its objectives. These included practising and assessing the early detection and isolation of patients; isolation procedures and protocols; the setting up of community-based assessment centres; communicating information to the public and media; and testing the capability and function of an Emergency Operations Centre," he said.

" In evaluating the exercise we have also been able to identify areas where improvements can, and are being made, so that New Zealand is better prepared for, and able to respond to, a real influenza pandemic."

" New Zealanders can be assured that when a pandemic hits this country, we will be ready. And it is a case of 'when' not 'if'. We can't afford to become complacent about the possibility of an influenza pandemic."

Mr Brazier said that the evaluation of Exercise Makgill highlighted 16 areas within the New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Action Plan (NZIPAP)which the Ministry is working to improve.

" All of these improvements will be put through their paces and re-assessed over a 5-day period in May as part of the whole of Government influenza pandemic preparedness assessment - Exercise Cruickshank."

Exercise Cruickshank will focus on all four pandemic stages; 'Keep it Out', 'Stamp it Out', 'Manage it' and 'Recover from it'.

The Ministry of Health will lead the whole of Government response from the National Crisis Management Centre located in the bunker under the Beehive.

District Health Boards, public health services, ESR and most government departments will be involved in Exercise Cruickshank.

 

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health (New Zealand).

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