The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations agency mandated to act as coordinating authority for international health crises, is monitoring the current outbreak of swine influenza. WHO is dispatching personnel, providing technical information, giving guidelines to health personnel around the globe, and issuing advice for the general public.
The World Health Organization provides this help:
- Up-to-date worldwide health bulletins for travelers
- Disease distribution maps
- Advice on precautions to take, especially when in crowded areas
- Guidance on infection prevention and control
- Fact sheets and regular news briefs via its media centre
- An alert system indicating severity of the outbreak (the level has just been raised from phase 4 to phase 5; top alert is 6)
- A comprehensive FAQ list
1. S. Public Health Service
The United States Public Health Service is the largest public health program in the world. Help offered during disease epidemics, such as the current swine flu outbreak, includes:
- Dispatching trained emergency health teams
- Providing updated information to help public health officials and health care providers
- Sending personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices, to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help state authorities respond to the outbreak.
- Providing frequent updates on numbers of cases and fatalities on a state-by-state basis
- Assessing what antiviral drugs are most effective in treating the current swine flu virus and dispatching them to where they are most needed
- Providing online sources of information and FAQs geared for the individual who needs details about symptoms, responses and courses of action
- Manning a 24-hour hotline operated by its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (800-CDC-INO; 800-232-4636)
Canadian Public Health Service
The Canadian Public Health Service has just added a section about “human swine influenza” to its website. It provides general information and tips. For specific questions or advice on real time situations, Canadians should call this hotline: 1-800-454-8302.
People in other countries should find out what governmental agency is in charge of public health, get a phone number for reaching that agency and keep that number in an easily accessible place, or visit OptingHealth.com.
What Everyone Should Do
Everyone should immediately plan in advance what to do if a family member, a fellow worker, or any other contact shows swine flu symptoms. The technical name is Influenza A. (H1N1). Help with this is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is working not only with health professionals and the public in the United States, but also with equivalent personnel in Canada and Mexico. Keep briefed on symptoms and how to get to the nearest hospital.