Washington, DC, 6 December 2018 (PAHO/WHO) – Six countries from the Region of the Americas participated in a simulation exercise for a global pandemic that took place on 4-6 December 2018. The exercise was coordinated by the World Health Organization’s Global Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and by the EOC Network, a global network of health emergency operations centers.

Brazil, Canada, Chile, Jamaica, Mexico and the United States were among more than 40 countries worldwide that participated in the three-day simulation, which was the first global pandemic response training exercise this year.

“These countries from the Americas had an opportunity to activate their coordination mechanisms for a health emergency, and were able to test their internal procedures and see if these are working properly. It was also a great opportunity for our EOC to test its capacities during a real time exercise”, said Leonardo Hernández, chief of the EOC at the Pan American Health Organization. “Now we must take the lessons learned and apply the changes needed for us to be ready for the next emergency.”

The simulation scenario revolved around an outbreak of influenza with pandemic potential on the fictional island nation of Mizzou, located off the coast of Mexico.

Evaluators from Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa observed how the participating EOCs performed in real time, measuring their performance against existing procedures. This experience aimed to help them identify areas for opportunity that would ultimately help in the assessment and improvement of Member States’ readiness to respond jointly and effectively to a global public health emergency.

The exercise took place on the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic (“Spanish flu”), which is estimated to have infected one third of the global population and resulted in the deaths of millions of people. The most recent global flu pandemic occurred about a decade ago, staring in the Region of the Americas.

These events happen periodically so is only a matter of a time before another global pandemic occurs. Member States have been working diligently with WHO to prepare for the next event.

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— PAHO/Emergencies