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Guidelines for economies to weather pandemics.



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Media contact: Claire Kimball (Mr Abbott’s Office) - 0413 486 926 Malcolm Cole (Mr Downer’s Office) - (02) 6277 7500

THE HON ALEXANDER DOWNER MP, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS THE HON TONY ABBOTT MP, MINISTER FOR HEALTH

7 September 2007

GUIDELINES FOR ECONOMIES TO WEATHER PANDEMICS

Asia-Pacific economies will be better able to weather a pandemic as a result of a new set of guidelines introduced by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum today.

APEC Ministers endorsed the APEC Functioning Economies in times of Pandemic (FETP) Guidelines which are designed to reduce the economic impact of a pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, announced today.

“The health ministers of all 21 APEC economies agree that threats to the health of our populations can have a devastating effect on prosperity,” Mr Abbott said.

“Globalisation and economic integration, which deliver so many benefits to the Asia-Pacific region, could also transmit pandemics and other acute health threats.”

Mr Downer said: “Many APEC economies have developed individual pandemic management plans in the agricultural and health sectors to help prevent and effectively respond to the spread of avian influenza and other infectious diseases.

“Australia has played a key role in developing the FETP guidelines to complement these sectoral plans.

“The guidelines go a step further and will provide a best-practice, whole-of-economy model to help economies keep functioning during a pandemic. Topics covered include planning and preparedness, communications and information, essential services and vital supplies, financial systems and movement between and within countries.

“The guidelines add considerably to regional technical capacity for emergency management and response planning,” Mr Downer said.

The guidelines are a key APEC project. Australia played a leading role in their development - through joint funding provided by the Commonwealth Government and APEC.

“APEC health ministers endorsed the guidelines at their meeting in Sydney earlier this year and we were pleased to commend them to other APEC ministers and leaders at this 2007 summit,” Mr Abbott said.

“Australia can be proud of its contribution and I greatly appreciate the efforts made by all APEC economies in furthering our region’s pandemic preparedness.”