Influenza is an acute viral disease of the respiratory tract which occurs every year in the population. Outbreaks or epidemics occur every few years and can cause widespread illness in the population resulting in thousands of medical visits, hospitalizations, and deaths across Canada. At regular intervals, but usually two or three times per century, a new influenza virus appears causing a worldwide epidemic or “pandemic”. When this happens, widespread disease, increased hospitalizations and high mortality may occur challenging the health care system and causing widespread social disruption.
The goal of the pandemic planning process is to minimize serious illness and mortality, and to reduce societal disruption in the population during an influenza pandemic. Planning will consider possible risks, hazards and vulnerabilities in order to reduce the negative impacts both on individuals and society as a whole. The planning process will identify the human and physical resources required to respond to a pandemic and to mitigate its effects. The Department of Health and Community Services continues to plan and prepare for pandemic influenza through a collaborative approach with key stakeholders and community partners.
Pandemics of influenza occur at regular intervals, approximately two or three times a century. The next pandemic is inevitable, although its timing and severity remain unpredictable. Canadian federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) officials have increased public health awareness and planning activities to prepare for this threat. International initiatives led by the World Health Organization (WHO) have increased surveillance and global pandemic planning.
The Department of Health and Community Services has drafted its Planning Guidelines and Roles and Responsibilities for the health care sector. This is a living document which will be updated periodically to reflect the outcomes of the pandemic working groups.
This planning tool will guide the health sector both at the provincial and community levels to enhance awareness, planning and response. It references the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan which reflects the Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) collaboration on a consistent pan-Canadian approach to planning and response. The annexes of the Canadian plan contain the details necessary for provinces and regions to prepare for and operationalize the response during a pandemic. This is referenced but not duplicated in the provincial planning document. This Newfoundland and Labrador influenza planning document for the health sector was developed through a collaborative and consultative process including representatives of several Government Departments (including Fire and Emergency Services Newfoundland and Labrador), and the Regional Health Authorities, with input from experts and references from other pandemic planning documents. This material is provided for clarification of respective roles and responsibilities, general information purposes and as a guideline to support consistent and comprehensive planning, preparedness, response and recovery for the health sector.