29 April 2009
Ladies and gentlemen,
Based on assessment of all available information, and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5.
Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world.
On the positive side, the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history.
Preparedness measures undertaken because of the threat from H5N1 avian influenza were an investment, and we are now benefitting from this investment.
For the first time in history, we can track the evolution of a pandemic in real-time.
I thank countries who are making the results of their investigations publicly available. This helps us understand the disease.
I am impressed by the work being done by affected countries as they deal with the current outbreaks.
I also want to thank the governments of the USA and Canada for their support to WHO, and to Mexico.
Let me remind you. New diseases are, by definition, poorly understood. Influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behaviour.
WHO and health authorities in affected countries will not have all the answers immediately, but we will get them.
WHO will be tracking the pandemic at the epidemiological, clinical, and virological levels.
The results of these ongoing assessments will be issued as public health advice, and made publicly available.
All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.
At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.
This change to a higher phase of alert is a signal to governments, to ministries of health and other ministries, to the pharmaceutical industry and the business community that certain actions should now be undertaken with increased urgency, and at an accelerated pace.
I have reached out to donor countries, to UNITAID, to the GAVI Alliance, the World Bank and others to mobilize resources.
I have reached out to companies manufacturing antiviral drugs to assess capacity and all options for ramping up production.
I have also reached out to influenza vaccine manufacturers that can contribute to the production of a pandemic vaccine.
The biggest question, right now, is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start?
It is possible that the full clinical spectrum of this disease goes from mild illness to severe disease. We need to continue to monitor the evolution of the situation to get the specific information and data we need to answer this question.
From past experience, we also know that influenza may cause mild disease in affluent countries, but more severe disease, with higher mortality, in developing countries.
No matter what the situation is, the international community should treat this as a window of opportunity to ramp up preparedness and response.
Above all, this is an opportunity for global solidarity as we look for responses and solutions that benefit all countries, all of humanity. After all, it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.
As I have said, we do not have all the answers right now, but we will get them.
(To keep up with the latest information from the WHO, just click on the title of this post to be taken directly to the WHO link for the influenza outbreak known as "Swine Flu.")
What follows is a guest post by Ruth A. Karron and Ruth R. Faden. Ruth A. Karron is the director of the Center for Immunization Research and Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ruth R. Faden is the executive director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.
At this point, it is impossible to predict whether we are on the brink of an influenza pandemic. The threat is real, however, and governments across the globe are working hard to mitigate the potential impact of swine flu.
This is right and proper. Our government has an obligation to protect the public's health, which it exercised responsibly by declaring a national public health emergency on Sunday. This declaration is the public face of countless actions that federal, state, and local health authorities are now undertaking on our behalf. But these are not the only actions that will be needed. There are also actions that we as citizens must undertake to minimize the swine flu threat that will help us protect ourselves and our families. These actions are not only prudent; they are a matter of moral and civic responsibility. Just as our government has an obligation to protect the public's health, we too have an obligation to our country and to our fellow human beings to do our share to minimize the burdens of this influenza outbreak.
What can each of us do?
Stay informed: New information about swine flu will be generated rapidly in the near term, and possibly longer. DHS Secretary Napolitano has committed to providing daily briefings for the foreseeable future. It is important that we commit to accessing that information, as well as information that may pertain to our local settings, so that we understand what is happening and can take action as needed.
Abide by public health recommendations: As public health officials learn more about the extent and spread of swine flu, new recommendations may be made to limit public gatherings, close schools or workplaces, or restrict or modify travel. These "social distancing" measures should reduce the public health burden of influenza by slowing down the pace by which flu will spread, but they will only work if each of us does our part.
Follow basic hygiene practices: Good hand hygiene is always important, but particularly so in this context. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based cleanser. Use a tissue to cover your nose or mouth if you cough or sneeze, and dispose of the tissue properly or, if you don't have a tissue, sneeze into your upper sleeve. Avoid touching your nose or mouth frequently.
Be vigilant and responsible if you or a loved one becomes ill: Contact a healthcare provider if you or a member of your household develops a fever and follow his or her instructions. Keep the person who is ill out of work or school. Unless someone is seriously ill, avoid using emergency rooms to evaluate possible flu symptoms. Even as we monitor this latest threat to public health, people will continue to have medical emergencies like heart attacks and car accidents, and it is important that emergency rooms be able to take care of those who need immediate medical attention.
Prepare for the possibility of staying in your home: One possible social distancing measure that public health authorities could ask us to undertake is to stay at home for a period of time. A basic principle of emergency preparedness is that each of us should have sufficient food and water in our homes to last our families in such an eventuality. Now is the time to make sure that your family is well provisioned, not only to protect yourselves but also out of recognition that some families do not have the money or stable housing required to stockpile food. If those of us who have the means take care of our own needs, it will be easier for the government and community organizations to take care of those who do not.
Check on your neighbors: If you haven't done so already, now is a good time to get to know your neighbors. Find out if any of them may need a little extra help dealing with this public health threat. People who live alone, for example, may appreciate your checking in with them from time to time, and elderly neighbors may need your help stocking up on food. Parents of school age children may want to talk through how they can help each other if schools in your area close but some workplaces stay open.
In his inaugural address, President Obama declared: "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world." Our individual and collective response to this swine flu outbreak will be one important measure of whether we as Americans and as citizens of the global community are living up to what the President has asked of us.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the outbreak of swine flu in North America has "pandemic potential" because it can spread from human to human.
What flu pandemics are and how they might be stopped or slowed down:
— New forms of flu virus often appear first in livestock, particularly poultry and pigs. The vast majority of these animal viruses do not cross over to humans.
— Flu pandemics occur when a strain of the flu virus mutates into a new form that can spread from human to human and to which people have no natural immunity.
— The new strain will most likely spread through the air, by coughing and sneezing in the same way as seasonal flu.
— Because there is no widespread immunity to the new strain, its effects are worse than normal flu. It is also difficult to predict which age groups will be worst hit by a pandemic strain.
— Until now, scientists have been most concerned the H5N1 bird flu would mutate into a pandemic strain. Since 2003, over 100 people have contracted a deadly strain of H5N1 and more than half of them have died. So far this strain does not appear to spread easily from human to human.
— Flu pandemics usually occur a couple of times each century, but the timing is unpredictable. Serious pandemics occurred in 1918 (Spanish influenza); 1957 (Asian influenza); and 1968 (Hong Kong influenza). According to WHO, the 1918 pandemic killed between 40 million and 50 million people worldwide, making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.
— Once a full-scale pandemic breaks out, WHO will raise its alert level to phase six.
— Countries may take measures such as border closures and travel restrictions to delay arrival of the pandemic, but would probably not be able to stop it.
— Widespread air travel means a pandemic would likely circle the globe in the space of three months, according to WHO.
— Most countries would not have enough supplies of anti-viral drugs to treat the entire population. A vaccine would also not be available immediately, and production of sufficient quantities would take some time. Rich countries would likely fare better than poor because they are able to buy large quantities of precious medicines at asking price.
— One of the biggest problems during a pandemic would be treating the large numbers of people who fall ill. Hospital staff would also be affected, reducing the number of health workers able to treat patients. For this reason many countries have declared that health workers would be the first to receive anti-virals.
— Death rates during a pandemic depend on the number of people infected, the vulnerability of the population, how lethal the virus is, and measures taken to stop the outbreak. WHO estimates that a pandemic would kill between 2 million to 7.4 million people, but these figures are based on modeling studies and are not considered precise.
— Aside from the health effects, economic damage would likely be one of the worst effects of a pandemic as workers stay at home and consumption and trade plummet.
Friendship: Seven Tips for Making New Friends.
Ancient philosophers and scientists agree: strong social ties are the KEY to happiness. You need close, long-term relationships; you need to be able to confide in others; you need to belong; you need to get and give support. Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter you’re far more likely to describe yourself as “very happy.”
Not only does having strong relationships make it far more likely that you take joy in life, but studies show that it also lengthens life (incredibly, even more than stopping smoking), boosts immunity, and cuts the risk of depression.
“Okay, okay,” you’re thinking, “I get it -- but it’s not that easy to make new friends.” Here are some strategies to try, if you’re eager to make friends but are finding it tough:
- Show up. Just as Woody Allen said that “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” a big part of friendship is showing up. Whenever you have the chance to see other people, take it. Go to the party. Stop by someone’s desk. Make the effort. Also, the mere exposure effect describes the fact that repeated exposure makes you like someone better – and makes that person like you better, too. You’re much more likely to become friends with someone if you see him or her often.
- Join a group. Being part of a natural group, where you have common interests and are brought together automatically, is the easiest way to make friends: starting a new job, taking a class, having a baby, joining a congregation, or moving to a new neighborhood are great opportunities to join a group. If those situations aren’t an option, try to find a different group to join. Get a dog, for example. Or pursue a hobby more seriously. An added advantage to making friends through a group is that you can strengthen your friendships to several people at once -- very helpful if you don't have a lot of free time.
- Form a group. If you can’t find an existing group to join, start a group based around something that interests you. My “Dinner with the Girls” group meetings are among the top joys of my life. Studies show that each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship, and also brings about a 2% increase in life satisfaction. Movies, wine, cheese, pets, marathon-training, a language, a worthy cause…I know people in all these sorts of groups.
- Say nice things about other people. It’s a kind way to behave; also, studies show that because of the psychological phenomenon of spontaneous trait transference, people unintentionally transfer to you the traits you ascribe to other people. So if you tell Janet that Jackie is arrogant, unconsciously Janet associates that quality with you. On the other hand, if you say that Jackie is hilarious, you’ll be linked to that quality.
- Set a target. This strategy sounds very calculating, but it has really worked for me. When I enter a situation where I meet a new set of people, I set myself the goal of making one new friend. This seems artificial, but somehow, this shift makes me behave differently, it makes me more open to people, it prompts me to make the effort to say more than a perfunctory hello.
- Make an effort to smile. Big surprise, studies show that the amount of time you smile during a conversation has a direct effect on how friendly you’re perceived to be.
- Make friends with friends-of-friends. Good people know good people. As my mother always says: “Water seeks its own level,” so friends-of-friends is an excellent place to start if you’re trying to expand your circle.
In college at The American University, I joined an amazing group of girls. The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I fell in love with what these women stood for. Service above all! Intelligence as our calling card. Yes, we were the popular girls; but our popularity came from achievement. Alpha Kappa Alpha gave me confidence when they took a shy 17 year old girl and gave her a group of sisters for life. Skee Wee Sorors!
I'll call her.... AKA!
Oh My God!
I love self-assessment.
Type theory and career choices
Type theory suggests that human behavior is not random but predictable and classifiable. What type you are says quite a bit about you -- your likes and dislikes, your likely career choices, your compatibility with others, and so on.
You have surely realized that not everyone thinks, works, or acts like you. It is easy to label co-workers or friends as lazy, crazy, or disorganized when their behavior does not match your expectations, but such name calling rarely helps us understand personality differences.
First discussed back in the 1920s by the psychologist Carl Jung, type theory suggests that human behavior is not random but predictable and classifiable. According to this theory, everyone is born predisposed to certain personality preferences.
Typologists have devised four pairs of preference alternatives, as stated below:
On the basis of your answers to the test you are placed in one of sixteen types. What type you are says quite a bit about you -- your likes and dislikes, your likely career choices, your compatibility with others, and so on.
Click here to read about your personality type.
Type watching in team situations
Having information about personality types and preferences can be quite useful. Once you understand the basic personality preferences under which people operate, as well as your own preferences, you can begin to find ways to more effectively work with opposite types or even your own type. Through type watching, you can find ways to build upon people's strengths and improve many group activities, such as time management, conflict resolution, problem solving, and team building.
Click here to read about how you can function best in team situations.
While everyone has some introversion and some extroversion, or some thinking and some feeling characteristics, the test will help you identify which alternatives you prefer to use.
- The test has 68 questions and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.
- You must answer at least 50 questions in order to receive your type.
- Your responses should reflect "the real you", not the way you want to be, think you should be, or are asked to be by someone else.
- Remember there are no right or wrong answers or personality types.
Just click on the imbedded links to find out who you REALLY are compared to who you think you are!
- Words of Affirmation
This is when you say how nice your spouse looks, or how great the dinner tasted. These words will also build your mate's self image and confidence.
- Quality Time
Some spouses believe that being together, doing things together and focusing in on one another is the best way to show love. If this is your partner's love language, turn off the TV now and then and give one another some undivided attention.
It is universal in human cultures to give gifts. They don't have to be expensive to send a powerful message of love. Spouses who forget a birthday or anniversary or who never give gifts to someone who truly enjoys gift giving will find themselves with a spouse who feels neglected and unloved.
- Acts of Service
Discovering how you can best do something for your spouse will require time and creativity. These acts of service like vacuuming, hanging a bird feeder, planting a garden, etc., need to be done with joy in order to be perceived as a gift of love.
- Physical Touch
Sometimes just stroking your spouse's back, holding hands, or a peck on the cheek will fulfill this need.
- Express negativity towards anyone else.
- Gossip about anyone
- Engage in mean-spirited comments about others
- Complain about anything
- Use gratuitous foul language
- Call someone you have lost touch with who used to make you laugh
- Perform a random act of kindness
- Talk to a child
- Volunteer to help out a work colleague
- Thank God for what you do have...and mean it
Good Morning Father!