Some 60 disaster experts from the health and agriculture sectors, Civil Protection agencies and Foreign Affairs Ministries in Central America and the Dominican Republic met to strengthen and accelerate country level preparedness for avian and pandemic influenza.

Several important products resulted from this meeting, which was held in Panama in February. Participants tested and gave their stamp of approval to a series of simulation exercises prepared by PAHO/WHO to test national plans. The WHO Checklist for Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Planning was adapted to regional needs and, following a self-assessment of pandemic preparedness in each country, action plans were developed to cover gaps.

Similar workshops will be held later this year in the Caribbean and South America. As part of an integrated effort to improve the Region’s response capacity to an influenza pandemic or other health crisis, future meetings will focus on issues such as health services, risk communication, veterinary public health and emergency management. For more information contact Dr. Ciro Ugarte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.