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GAO: States want more pandemic planning guidance

first_imgJul 29, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Despite a wide range of pandemic planning guidance documents from federal and private groups, states say they still need more information from federal officials, particularly on community mitigation measures, fatality management, and supporting medical surge efforts, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported recently.The GAO released its findings on Jul 19 in a 52-page report posted on its Web site. Members of Congress had asked the GAO to describe how states and localities were preparing for a pandemic, along with how they handled their pandemic exercises, what they learned from them, and how the federal government can better assist state and local officials with pandemic planning.The GAO based its findings on visits to the five most populous states, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas, and ten localities within them. The localities included five urban areas—Los Angeles County, Miami, Chicago, New York City, and Dallas—and five rural counties: Stanislaus County, California; Taylor County, Florida; Peoria County, Illinois; Washington County, New York; and Angelina County, Texas. Taken together, the areas include a third of the US population and account for a third of federal funds for pandemic planning exercises, and they also are border areas or international travel hubs. All 15 of the sites had developed pandemic plans.Spotty preparationsOne of the findings was that states and localities have had little involvement with federal pandemic planning efforts, despite the fact that, according to the National Pandemic Implementation Plan, they must lead 17 of it 324 action items and are involved in 64 other tasks. “Stakeholder involvement during the planning process is important to ensure that the federal government’s and nonfederal entities’ responsibilities and resource requirements are clearly understood and agreed on,” the GAO reported.In 2007 the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reviewed states’ pandemic plans. The agency found many major gaps in 16 of 22 priority areas and a few major gaps in six other areas. HHS officials told GAO investigators that states have generally done well planning public health measures such as mass vaccination and antiviral distribution, but were less adept in other areas such school closures and maintaining critical infrastructure.”We found the areas in which state and local officials were looking for additional federal guidance were often the same areas that were rated by HHS as having ‘many major gaps’ in planning,” the investigators wrote.Federal officials issued a pandemic planning guide for the states in March 2008; the states are required to submit updated plans for review by the end of July.All the states and all but two of the localities in the GAO study had conducted a pandemic exercise to test their plans. All said they had incorporated lessons learned during the exercises into their pandemic planning. For example, officials in New York City learned they might experience a ventilator shortage and purchased 70 additional units. And officials in Stanislaus County, California, learned they needed to train their staff on how to use the National Incident Management System, a nationwide public-private system that prepares for and responds to domestic emergencies.Lots of resources, but not enoughThe GAO detailed myriad resources for states, including checklists, planning documents, and Webinars from the federal government as well as the private sector. Federal officials have also hosted five regional workshops on pandemic planning. However, investigators found that states and localities still would like more guidance on specific topics, including some—such as community mitigation measures—that have already been addressed. “The existing guidance may not have reached state and local officials or may not address the particular concerns or circumstances of the state and local officials we interviewed,” the auditors wrote.Other areas on which nonfederal officials said they wanted more guidance included fatality management, how to support medical surge capacity, mass vaccination, antiviral drug distribution, how to plan quarantine stations, how to handle school closures, and how to maintain critical infrastructure.In some instances, states are developing their own guidance, the GAO reported. For example, California is developing medical surge guidelines for healthcare professionals, and Texas has developed an antiviral prioritization plan.GAO calls for more regional workshopsThe GAO recommended that federal officials hold more regional pandemic planning sessions for states to address some of the topics and address gaps in planning. However, a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told investigators that no more workshops were planned.HHS generally agreed with the GAO’s recommendation and said it might consider holding more regional planning workshops after its staff finishes reviewing state pandemic plan revisions. DHS said in a letter accompanying the report that it also agreed with the GAO’s recommendation.See also:Jul 19 GAO report on state pandemic planningMar 14 CIDRAP News story “HHS issues pandemic planning guide for states”last_img read more

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Laurie Foster | Saint Stephen? … MVP boss showing softer side

first_img Judging from all this, as was the case in previous situations, with Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson, Melaine Walker and so many high profilers, the MVP door is not a revolving one. Once you leave, you stay out – no room for reconsideration or revisit by either party – rough but real. Returning to Jamaica seems to have brought out a change of direction. The hitherto perceived ‘my way or the highway’ super coach is now singing from a different hymn sheet. Regional track and field exclusive website, Trackalerts.com carried a story: ‘Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce could return to MVP’. The thought was fuelled by a Francis comment that did not typify the no-nonsense, no retreat, no return, academically gifted former accountant. “From what I’m hearing, it looks as if things are not as clear-cut as they were before. It seemed clear-cut back in Rio, but it doesn’t seem as clear-cut now,” Francis continued, “we will see what happens.” That final offering at the Airport welcome ceremony, has sparked the sentiment that Francis is on a different path. Could it be one that accommodates a view leading to dialogue? Jamaica, nor for that matter, the world is not awash with coaches of the calibre of a Stephen Francis. He has been vilified in the past for an attitude that can compromise the fortunes of our most talented. A case in point was that anti-camp face off at the 2009 Berlin World Champs that led to a frenzied pull-out of some eventual medalists. It was only astute and assiduous action by some top administrators that saved that day and the nation’s global image. Every Third World nation deserves to have its best athletes and its best coaches working in tandem to achieve best results. If what we are seeing is real, Foster’s Fairplay welcomes the new and refreshed Stephen Francis. • For feedback: Email [email protected] NO REVOLVING DOOR Is the sport of track and field actually seeing a new Stephen Francis? Talk is that in recent times, most specifically, after the Rio Olympics, the MVP Track Club’s head coach is displaying a softer side to his personality, previously hidden from public view. Foster’s Fairplay has received a few calls on the matter and is compelled to give an ear to what seems to be real chat. The traditionally highly combative Francis is known for his belligerent stance, taking on the sport’s elite thinkers, adamant to illustrate that he should be included in that lot. His open defiance of, aligned with ranting and raving against, certain edicts from top administrators, has become a feature of the highly spirited interaction with the authorities, while on the cusp of major championships. Usually, the point of discussion rests with compulsory pre-competition camps, which the University of Michigan MBA graduate sees as anathema in respect of the needs of his athletes. Immediately after the crowning of MVP’s new sprinting sensation, Elaine Thompson, as the latest Olympic 100m queen, the dethroned Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, amidst all her grace, elegance and charm, dropped a bombshell. She responded to journalists’ queries in a manner that suggested that all did not go well in her preparation for a momentous event. Her chance of becoming the first ever triple-gold medalist in the short sprint, had been shattered. A series of interviews, revealed that coach Francis was being asked to shoulder the blame for a performance that denied Fraser-Pryce a special place in history. Then came what was described as the “Shelly Shocker” with this newspaper’s special projects editor, AndrÈ Lowe, reporting from Rio that “MVP coach Stephen Francis has confirmed that Olympic 100m bronze medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has lost confidence in the programme and is moving on.” Francis responded: “I am in agreement with her that she should try something different.” This was after another alleged statement suggesting that he held up his hand when the question of Shelly-Ann’s not making the historic cut a few weeks earlier was raised. There was an admission of guilt. “Coaches of the disappointed people, like myself have to take the blame, and I accept full blame for Shelly-Ann not performing the way she expected to.”last_img read more

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