U.S. and Laos Co-Host Multinational Pandemic Influenza Workshop
April 6-9, 2010
The U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Department’s of Defense’s (DoD) Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) partnered with the Lao National Emerging Infectious Disease Coordinating Office (NEIDCO) and the Ministry of Health to co-host a multinational Pandemic Influenza Civil-Military Senior Planners Workshop in Vientiane at the Lao Plaza from 6-9 April, 2010.
The Senior Planners Workshop had more than forty-five civilian and military medical professionals participating from twelve different nations. Participating nations included Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Vanuatu, and the Maldives.
The goal of this four-day workshop was to provide senior civilian and military health planners with strategies to integrate civilian and military resources into contingency planning for major infectious disease outbreaks at the national, provincial, and district level.
“At COE’s senior-level Pandemic Influenza workshop involving Asia-Pacific and African regions, as well as the United Nations, in Rome, Italy last year [May 2009], only seven Asian countries were able to attend because it was at the beginning of the H1N1 outbreak in Asia,” explained Andy Bates, COE lead for the pandemic influenza workshop series. “All the countries that were not able to attend last year’s Italy workshop have been invited to this workshop. Material from the Rome workshop as well as additional lessons learned from last year’s H1N1 outbreak will be covered.”
“In addition, at this workshop, Laos will make a presentation on its newly instituted pandemic community surveillance network to other countries in the region,” added Bates. “This is very important as this type of network may provide an opportunity to contain an infectious disease outbreak before it spreads to the general population. [Last year], the reason why H1N1 spread so quickly outside of Mexico was because of the lack of a local surveillance system.”
The opening ceremony for this workshop was attended by the Director of NEIDCO, Dr. Bounlay Phommachak; the Director of the Military Medical Department, Colonel Dr. Boutern Bannavong; and the Director of the Center of Excellence, Lieutenant General (Retired) John Goodman.
This event is part of the ongoing cooperation organized by the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Pacific Command, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, NEIDCO, and the Lao People’s Army Military Medical Department.
According to Bates, following this workshop COE will execute a series of bilateral workshops to take pandemic influenza lessons learned to the community level in several Asia-Pacific countries later this year. The pandemic workshop series is the result of an agreement between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE-DMHA) was established by the US Congress in 1994 to facilitate civil-military management in international disaster management and humanitarian assistance. It partners with a wide variety of national and international governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to provide relevant education, training, coordination and research.
COE-DMHA, a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) organization, is a direct reporting unit to the US military’s Pacific Command (USPACOM) and is establishing field offices at global Combatant Commands (COCOMs) to promote global disaster preparedness and resiliency. http://www.coe-dmha.org [Lao Version]