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Pacific Health Summit Focuses On Pandemic Prevention And Preparedness

Armen Hareyan's picture

Pandemic Prevention And Preparedness

Within the next decade, the world could face a deadly pandemic that could easily kill millions, disrupt the normal flow of life worldwide and create economic havoc.

The question has shifted from "what if?" to "what can we do?"

This year, the third annual meeting of the Pacific Health Summit, June 12-14 in Seattle, focuses on the threat of worldwide pandemics. Delegates from public health, business, health care, and government from around the Pacific Rim will meet in Seattle to discuss and set plans of action that could help diminish, deter or defeat a potentially lethal pandemic.

"A global pandemic is the No. 1 health crisis facing our planet," said Michael Birt, executive director of the Pacific Health Summit. "The good news is that we can develop tangible and effective measures to respond to, and possibly prevent, pandemics. Health-care and policy leaders from around the Pacific Rim have come here to collaborate on these measures. We have the right people here to do great things. It will be an effective and influential Summit."

One of the major issues under review is the need to develop and distribute vaccines in Pacific Rim countries at the frontline of pandemic outbreaks. Last month, members of the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed on principles for sharing avian influenza virus samples for vaccine research through a global network. New outbreaks in various parts of the world have made the need for collaboration on avian influenza and other pandemics paramount.

"If an influenza pandemic emerges, the traditional 'just in time' distribution model will simply be too late," said Joe Hogan, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, a founding sponsor of the Pacific Health Summit. "Now is the time for governments, non-governmental organizations, academia and businesses to work together to plan for a pandemic and to ensure everyone has access to vaccines and other medical technologies when they need them."

The 2007 Pacific Health Summit will showcase and discuss the profound policy implications of possible new scientific and technological developments related to improved vaccine capabilities for avian influenza. The timing of the discussion and the possible scientific breakthroughs are a unique opportunity to launch global efforts at pandemic preparedness that could yield much more effective and equitable responses for both developing and developed worlds.

Participants in the 2007 Pacific Health Summit include:

-- Margaret Chan, M.D., Director-General, World Health Organization

-- Tadataka Yamada, M.D., Ph.D., President, Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

-- Nils Daulaire, M.D., President and CEO, Global Health Council

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-- Huqun Bai, Deputy Director-General, Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health, China

-- Anna Barker, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Strategic Scientific Initiatives, National Cancer Institute

-- William Castell, Chairman, The Wellcome Trust

-- Zhu Chen, Ph.D., Vice President and Member, Chinese Academy of Sciences

-- Chris Elias, M.D., M.P.H., President, PATH

-- Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations

-- Bruce Gellin, M.D., M.P.H., Director, National Vaccine Program Office, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

-- David Heymann, M.D., Assistant Director-General, Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization

-- Joe Hogan, President and CEO, GE Healthcare

-- Lee Hood, M.D., Ph.D., President, Institute for Systems Biology

-- David Nabarro, M.D., UN System Senior Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza

-- Triono Soendoro, Ph.D., Director-General, National Institute of Health Research and Development, Ministry of Health, Indonesia

-- Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., President and Director, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center