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HHS: United States, Canada and Mexico strengthen information sharing in health emergencies

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The United States, Canada and Mexico have adopted a set of principles and guidelines on how the three countries’ governments will share in advance public information and communications products during health emergencies of mutual interest.  U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Canada’s Minister of Health Rona Ambrose and Mexico’s Secretary of Health Mercedes Juan signed a Declaration of Intent, formally adopting the principles and guidelines, at a trilateral meeting today during the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The United States, Canada and Mexico have had a long and close relationship in supporting and improving our collective ability to respond to public health events and emergencies of mutual interest when they arise,” Secretary Sebelius said.  “This declaration reinforces our joint efforts to strengthen our national capabilities to communicate effectively with our respective populations.”

“Infectious diseases are not limited by countries’ borders, and neither are the ways through which we receive the news,” said Minister Ambrose.  “This Declaration will help our countries work together on the essential task of communicating more effectively on public health issues, which will protect the health of all of our citizens.”

“The collaboration between the three North American countries has proved to be an extraordinary contribution to strengthening the security of health in the region,” said Secretary Juan.  “The clear, transparent and timely exchange of information has been, and will remain, a central pillar of this cooperation, particularly for responding to public health emergencies.”

The Declaration of Intent calls on the three countries to:

  • Share public communications plans, statements and other communications products related to health emergencies with each other prior to their public release;
  • Apprise other appropriate authorities, depending on the type of health emergency, within their respective governments when the declaration is invoked;
  • Conduct an annual short communications exercise to improve joint coordination; and
  • Hold recurrent meetings, as they may mutually determine, to review and propose amendments to the Declaration of Intent.

The formal Declaration of Intent not only supports the requirements of the International Health Regulations, which calls for neighboring countries to develop accords and work together on shared public health issues, but also the underlying principles of the 2012 North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (NAPAPI).  The NAPAPI builds upon the experiences of the H1N1 influenza pandemic and outlines how the three countries intend to strengthen and coordinate their emergency response capacities, including public communications, in anticipation of a pandemic virus originating in or spreading to the North American continent.

The full Declaration of Intent is available at:

English version:
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/05/wha-declaration-us-canada-mexico-en.pdf

Spanish version:
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/05/wha-declaration-us-canada-mexico-es.pdf

French version:
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/05/wha-declaration-us-canada-mexico-fr.pdf

The French version of the press release can be found on Canada's web site: http://nouvelles.gc.ca/web/article-fr.do?mthd=index&crtr.page=1&nid=849269


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