PRESS RELEASE No. 264
- Top health officials from Mexico, the United States and Canada sign Declaration of Intent to Coordinate Communication in Public Health Emergencies.
Mexico’s Secretary of Health Mercedes Juan, U.S. Health and Human Services (HSS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Canada’s Minister of Health Rona Ambrose signed a Declaration of Intent today, to Coordinate Communication in Public Health Emergencies.
Through the Declaration, the three nations formally adopt a series of principles and technical guidelines to be followed in order to share public health information and communication products of mutual interest during health emergencies.
The top health officials highlighted these efforts at a trilateral meeting that took place during the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
Mexican Secretary of Health Mercedes Juan indicated that the collaboration between the three North American countries has proved to be an extraordinary contribution to strengthening the security of health in the region.
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, noted Secretary Juan.
“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, she added, reinforces our joint efforts to strengthen our respective national capabilities to communicate risks, a mandatory fundamental capability for countries that belong to the International Health Regulations.
“Infectious diseases are not limited by countries’ borders, and neither are the ways through which we receive the news,” said Minister Ambrose.
In this regard, specified 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 Declaration of Intent calls on the three countries to:
- Share public communications plans, statements and other communications products related to health emergencies 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 signing of the Declaration of Intent today 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 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.