May 26, 2005

By Masaleen Sehpin
The Kaselehlie Press

The third part of the Public Health Emergency Operations Planning workshop was recently completed during the week of May 9-13. The one week-workshop consisted of participants from various agencies from the National Government, each state government and non-governmental organizations.

The first workshop held in January of this year, addressed the issues related to natural and technological disasters and the second workshop held in March addressed issues related to infectious diseases. The third workshop, which was recently completed this month, addressed chemical spills.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with Health Resources and Services Administrations (HRSA) funding have designated the Pacific Emergency Health Initiative (PEHI) team to conduct emergency preparedness exercises, workshops and trainings within the FSM through the FSM Department of Health, Education & Social Affairs (HESA) and the Bio-terrorism preparedness and response program.

According to Anna-Marie of the Bio-terrorism office in Pohnpei, the workshops enabled the participating agencies to make plans for the US Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). Each agency participant is required to come up with a standard operation procedure to refer to when disaster strikes. Everybody takes part when disaster strikes. From governmental agencies to non-governmental agencies, each should know its place when disaster strikes. The three workshops highlighted the responsibilities of each agency in terms of disaster and enable each agency to write a standard operational procedure to practice in order for them to be really prepared when disaster strikes.

Staff from CDC & Prevention from Atlanta facilitated the workshops. The staff was from the International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch and from the Division of Strategic National Stockpile. The three workshops combined were meant to increase preparedness for disaster in the FSM so that when disaster strikes, the FSM could save a lot by immediate response instead of waiting for foreign assistants.

Now that the FSM becomes a member of the US SNS, medical supplies are expected to arrive within 24-48 hours prior to time of disaster. The SNS is the US government's repository for drugs and medical supplies to be used in public health emergencies and natural disasters. "The workshop helped FSM and the State of Pohnpei to develop a plan to efficiently receive SNS and quickly distribute supplies if needed," stated Anna-Marie in a report.