Emergency and Disaster Planning: Government Establishes a Limited Time Pandemic Flu “Blog Summit”

Ever since talk of the bird flu pandemic started making the news in 2005, information assurace folks have talked about how this could affect them and their efforts. There have been some very interesting viewpoints and insights. Most related to the loss of availability of personnel needed for the business to continue to function, loss of access to vendors, and to outsourced entities, and other emergency management and disaster recovery issues.
When you start thinking about it and brainstorming with your colleagues you discover there truly are many related information assurance issues.

I subscribe to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) maillist, and yesterday I received a notice through it that they had created a limited time blog devoted to discussing pandemic flu issues. The site will be maintained through June 27 as a type of “blog summit.”
There are reportedly 16 “influential leaders” participating in the blog, which is spearheaded by Michael Leavitt, but only the following 14 were listed on the site:
1. Ann Beauchesne, Executive Director, Homeland Security Policy Division, United States Chamber of Commerce
2. Georges Benjamin, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E.P. (Emeritus) Executive Director, American Public Health Association
3. Jeffrey Caballero, Director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO); Vice Chair of Membership and Communications, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
4. Michael Coston, Founder, Avian Flu Diary
5. Greg Dworkin, Founding Editor, Flu Wiki & Flu Wiki Forum; Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology and Medical Director of the Pediatric Inpatient Unit, Danbury Hospital
6. David Eisner, Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for National and Community Service
7. Matthew Holt, Founder, The Health Care Blog
8. Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
9. Pierre Omidyar,Founder and Chairman, eBay; Cofounder and Founding Partner, Omidyar Network
10. Rebecca Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR; President, American Nurses Association
11. Irwin Redlener, Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University
12. Albert Ruesga, Founding Editor, White Courtesy Telephone; Contributor, Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Opinion Blog
13. Sister Patricia Talone, RSM, PhD; Vice President, Mission Services, Catholic Health Association I have worked in Catholic health care for over twenty years as an ethicist and mission administrator
14. Nedra Weinreich, President and Founder, Weinreich Communications; Founder, Spare Change
There have already been a significant number of comments made to the comparatively few blog postings, but I do not see any responses to them from the blog posters themselves. For example, Leavitt has had 91 comments (as of my writing this) to the first posting in the blog, many questions, but he has not responded to any of them. The comments are quite fascinating to read through, though. There are some very good points made, and some good ideas. Hopefully the “influential leaders” will actually read the comments and respond to at least some of them.
If you get a chance, read through the messages. Post your comments. Bring up the information security, privacy and IT issues. This is a public forum that the government is monitoring, so here’s your chance to get your voice heard…if not by the government itself, at least by the many other people monitoring the blog.
Here’s the full text of the message:

“Date: May 24, 2007
For Release: Immediately
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343
Influential business, health care, faith-based and community leaders participate in pandemic preparedness blog and forum hosted by HHS
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched the Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog, a five-week-long blog about pandemic preparedness. Participant bloggers include some of the nation’s most influential business, health care, faith-based and community leaders. This online event is part of a new campaign to help Americans prepare for a potential influenza pandemic and engage U.S. leaders in the challenge to help others prepare.
“The conversation about individual preparedness for pandemic flu must extend nationwide through all possible channels, including social media and the Internet,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “The blog summit is an innovative and efficient forum for bringing together leaders for a lively discussion on the pandemic preparedness movement.”
HHS is one of the first government agencies to utilize the participatory nature of the Internet to create a dialogue around a specific issue or campaign. This effort to engage individuals in an online conversation is the one of many steps HHS will be taking to carry out its campaign to encourage Americans to prepare. By preparing now, individuals will be better able to withstand the impact of a pandemic, slow the spread of disease, and lessen the overall impact to themselves, their families and to society.
Ideas and dialogue generated during the leadership blog will contribute to HHS’ upcoming pandemic influenza leadership forum in June, an event which will bring together approximately 80 U.S. leaders representing the business, faith, civic and health care communities. The dynamic leadership forum will call on participants to help Americans become more prepared for an influenza pandemic by leveraging their influence and expertise in their communities to actively promote individual pandemic preparedness.
“It may not be possible to predict with certainty when the next flu pandemic will occur or how severe it will be, but it is essential to prepare ahead of time and that time is now,” Secretary Leavitt said. “We are the first generation ever to have an opportunity to prepare in advance of a pandemic. Government alone can’t prepare the nation for a pandemic. This is a shared responsibility and the challenge requires leadership from those most trusted and respected in their communities.”
The pandemic-focused leadership blog gives national leaders the opportunity to participate in an ongoing and critical conversation about the potential impact of a pandemic on individuals, families, communities and workplaces. Participating bloggers will be asked specific questions related to the threat of a pandemic in the U.S. and will collaborate on ideas for what can be done to help their employees, constituents, customers, congregations and clients prepare now.
Approximately 16 influential leaders, including leading authorities on pandemic flu, will blog throughout the next five weeks. A few of the participant bloggers include Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman of Ebay and Co-founder of Omidyar Network; David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service; and Greg Dworkin, Founding Editor of Flu Wiki and Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology and Medical Director of the Pediatric Inpatient Unit at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Conn.
The Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog will continue through June 27 and is open to the public and media. Comments are welcome and encouraged by all who visit the blog at http://blog.pandemicflu.gov.
In conjunction with the blog, HHS will hold a Pandemic Influenza Leadership Forum on June 13 in Washington, DC with representatives of the business, faith, civic and health care communities. Using materials prepared by HHS, local leaders will be asked to reach out to the people they represent with the essential steps necessary for pandemic flu preparedness. By preparing now, individuals will be better able to withstand the impact of a pandemic, slow the spread of disease, and lessen the overall impact to themselves, their families and society.
An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza (“flu”) virus appears in humans; the new virus causes serious illness and death, and spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Past influenza pandemics, like the one that occurred in 1918, have led to: high levels of illness; death; disruption in normal, everyday activities like going to school, work, or other public gatherings, and economic loss. For more information visit: www.pandemicflu.gov.”

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