Do thepublic health strategies that have been developed for the handling of SARSprepare the public for the possibility of future pandemics? The 2003 outbreakthat became viral around the world was definitely one of the most definingprofessional experiences for Canadian Public Health administrators and professionals.Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome also commonly known as SARS is a virus that canaffect people as well as Animals. SARS was first reported in North America,Asia, South America and Europe before the outbreak was able to be contained. Thisoutbreak was a wakeup call for the international community which showed howsevere and how rapidly a disease like SARS can infect and spread. Since theSARS outbreak Canada has worked hard to protect citizens from the public healthimpact of possible pandemic outbreaks.
Accordingto the WHO (World Health Organization), infectious viruses and diseases are morecommonly emerging. Almost a total of 40 new diseases have been discovered thatwere unknown to the world a generation ago, and this number continues toincrease. PublicHealth and Safety is not a sole responsibility, it is shared amongst Canada atall levels of the system being; local, provincial, and federal. Theseresponsibilities are to monitor any emerging diseases and possible threats andprepare the public. People who obtain Pubic Health authority analyze any newdisease emerging, assess its risk to Canadian Citizens and proceed to issue analert when there is a serious threat of the virus becoming a pandemic. Since theSARS outbreak the Agency has worked very hard to improve and strengthen Canadaspublic health strategies in the event that a pandemic breaks out.
At this timethe Canadian Public Health Service was established which placed highlyqualified public health officers where they are needed most to help with notonly daily medical issues, but any possible emerging outbreaks. After this, theAgency developed a program called the Skills Online which has helped manypublic health practitioners worldwide with core health skills and knowledge. TheAgency is also responsible for the development of electronic systems that arecapable of monitoring, reporting, and investigating any public health eventsacross Canada. This is important as this system can allow administrators tocollect and analyze health information to prepare for outbreaks. Informing thepublic is an extremely important step in managing any public health threats andcombatting a pandemic.
Since the outbreak of SARS, Health Canada and the Agencywere able to uncover a “Strategic Risk Communication Framework”. This is ableto guide Health Canadas work in trying to develop good communications for thepublic. This framework advocates facilitating talk to enable authoritiesto make well-informed decisions for effective, responsible and ethical riskmanagement. This approach to communicating risk issues has been extensivelyapplied to pandemic influenza planning and response.
Overall,the Agency has coordinated and collaborated with public health professionals,industry organizations as well as non-governmental organizations to produce andcollect different strategies to combat any type of arising pandemic.