New Mexico Helps Business Community Prepare For Pandemic Flu

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About 130 business and health leaders in New Mexico attended “Economic Consequences of Pandemic Influenza along the United States – Mexico Border” this week as a part of the State’s efforts to help organizations mitigate the effects of a pandemic flu. The New Mexico Department of Health partnered with the New Mexico Economic Development’s Office of Mexican Affairs to explain how companies can prepare for the impact a pandemic flu could have on their business.

“We are looking for every opportunity to meet with different sectors of our community to make sure New Mexico is prepared for the disruption to services and businesses during a pandemic flu,” said Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil. “We appreciate businesses taking the time to learn about how they can develop plans to ensure minimal disruption to trade and commerce in the region.”

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The Department of Health held the summit in Sunland Park because the border community has greater challenges due to the numbers of people who cross the border every day for work and commerce, and the large amount of cross border transport of supplies and goods. Speakers represented the departments of Health and Economic Development, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, Chihuahua State Health Services, New Mexico State University, International Business Accelerator, Juarez Municipal Government and Specialized Emergency Management Solutions.

“The economy that New Mexico shares with Mexico is so interconnected in terms of production and logistics that if we see a glitch in the system it could be catastrophic,” said Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the International Business Accelerator, which is a part of the New Mexico Small Business Development Center. “Business leaders have a responsibility to be part of the solution in dealing with a potential pandemic. We must have measures in place that will prevent disruptions in the supply chain and have a plan to deliver goods and services if the workforce gets sick.”

This is the first summit the Department of Health’s Bureau of Health Emergency Management has held for businesses. Previously this year, the Bureau held summits on pandemic influenza planning for leadership of state agencies in Santa Fe and for health professionals in the tristate, binational area of New Mexico, Texas and Chihuahua. The summits are a part of the Department’s emergency preparedness initiatives. The Department will be holding an exercise later this month to assess continuity of operations of its public health services in a public health emergency.

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