NAPAPI: North American Countries Join Forces to Prepare for Pandemics
2 April 2012 - A new North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza supports a faster and more coordinated response to influenza pandemics in North America. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper released the plan jointly during the North American Leaders Summit as a way to enhance the health and safety of residents of all three nations.
Known as NAPAPI, the plan provides, for the first time, a framework for the health, agriculture, security, and foreign affairs sectors of all three countries to collaborate on pandemic preparedness and response. It lays the ground work for mutual assistance during a response, such as sharing personnel as well as vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tests, known collectively as medical countermeasures.
The plan builds on the 2007 North American Plan for Avian and Pandemic Influenza and is the culmination of efforts begun at the 2009 North American Leaders Summit, in which leaders from the three countries committed to building on the lessons learned from the H1N1 pandemic. NAPAPI complements HHS’s ongoing efforts in global health.
The NAPAPI recognizes and intends to build upon the core principles of key international frameworks, agreements, and organizations dealing with animal and pandemic influenza issues.
The WHO developed international guidance on pandemic preparedness and response, including Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response: A WHO Guidance Document with a series of six pandemic phases, released just before Pandemic (H1N1) 2009. These WHO efforts were intended to improve international collaboration, coordination, transparency and management of risk in responding to pandemic influenza threats. The WHO’s international guidance formed much of the basis for the three countries’ planning for North American pandemic preparedness and response. This guidance is meant to be revised based on the findings of the IHR Review Committee and the lessons learned from the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 response.
The OIE provides guidelines, advice and standards to prevent, diagnose, and respond to outbreaks of notifiable avian influenza (NAI) within the Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2010) and the Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals (2008). These documents also provide standards and guidelines outlining how countries should provide international notification and continue or resume trade in animal commodities prior to, during, and following an outbreak.
Similarly, FAO’s role in combating highly pathogenic avian influenza is to facilitate direct technical and resource assistance to help national governments align their prevention, control and response efforts with OIE guidelines. The FAO coordinates support to affected countries to assist their efforts to control the disease and provides assistance to countries at risk of introduction of the disease. These efforts are now augmented by a rapid response capability through the FAO/OIE Crisis Management Center. Also, the OIE FAO Network on Animal Influenza (OFFLU) works to reduce the negative impact of animal influenza viruses through the promotion of collaboration between animal and human health authorities and provides the current scientific foundation for the promulgation of animal health regulations and regulatory guidelines.
The NAPAPI also builds on the core principles of other international organizations and agreements including the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, the WTO, and NAFTA.
Collaboration among the partners is vital for a faster response to pandemic threats. The countries will collaborate to develop and implement concrete actions that strengthen trilateral emergency preparedness and response capacities and capabilities, such as interconnected systems for surveillance and early warning of disease outbreaks and protocols for transporting laboratory samples. The three countries also will conduct joint epidemiological investigations of viruses that could cause human influenza pandemics, as well as outbreaks of animal influenza that pose a threat to human health.