DHHS: Governor Doyle Hosts Statewide Pandemic Readiness Summit


Contacts: Anne Lupardus, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162
   Stephanie Marquis, Department of Health and Human Services, 608-266-1683

Joined by Federal HHS Deputy Secretary Alex Azar

Governor Jim Doyle today hosted a statewide summit to discuss planning for a potential pandemic flu outbreak.  The Governor’s Pandemic Readiness Summit, also attended by United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Secretary Alex Azar, brought together more than 300 officials and community leaders to discuss pandemic preparedness and coordination of plans in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak.

“Wisconsin is a national leader in preparing for an influenza pandemic,” Governor Doyle said. “We are doing everything possible to be prepared.  But good preparation plans are never static.  Any response to a pandemic would have to be coordinated on a statewide, national, and international scale, and this summit is a great step toward ensuring that we have coordinated plans in place.  I commend all of those involved in this preparedness summit.”

The goal of the summit was to raise awareness about the importance of planning for a possible avian flu outbreak or any other health-related pandemic that may occur.  Summit invitees included hospital and healthcare professionals, federal representatives and state legislators, education officials, chamber of commerce members, military personnel, tribal leaders, business representatives, various state and local agency personnel, and other community and religious organizations.

Governor Doyle and Deputy Secretary Azar signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the state and federal government, addressing how Wisconsin and the nation are planning for a possible pandemic.

In the Memorandum, HHS commits to providing guidance and technical assistance to Wisconsin; an initial amount of financial assistance for planning, $1,831,224; and agrees to review the state’s plans for use, storage and distribution of antivirals and notify it of its portion of the federal stockpile of pandemic influenza antiviral drugs.  Wisconsin agrees to assure that its operational plan for pandemic influenza response is an integral element of the overall state and local emergency response plan and to continue working with the Emergency Preparedness Committee of the Governor’s appointed Public Health Council.  The state will also notify HHS of the estimated amount of additional pandemic influenza antiviral drugs it will plan to purchase and will exercise its preparedness plan within nine months of today’s summit.

“Everyone in Wisconsin can be proud of the network of partnerships and agreements we already have in place to address emergencies,” Governor Doyle said.  “It is my hope that today’s summit will serve to strengthen the foundation of our response efforts to any emergency, as well as provide a forum to encourage our partners to take the next steps in preparing for a potential pandemic.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) developed its Pandemic Influenza Plan in 2001.  Working with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), an Animal Pandemic Plane was created in 2005.  To ensure that there will be a coordinated response from all state agencies during a possible pandemic, Governor Doyle directed DHFS to convene an Inter-agency Pandemic Influenza Workgroup. 

Other preparedness efforts Governor Doyle has initiated include:

  • Creating an Avian Influenza Coordination Team made up of the DHFS, DNR, and DATCP, to bolster communications among these and other state agencies;

  • Adding DNR and DATCP to Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Council, chaired by Major General Al Wilkening, to help coordinate and direct the state operations, along with federal and local officials, to prevent and respond to any security threat;

  • Supporting creation of the Institute for Influenza Viral Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Research Park, which will house the research program of UW-Madison researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka, who had been designated by the World Health Organization as leading one of the “world’s preeminent influenza projects;” and

  • Better utilizing technology to make sure that Wisconsin is ready for a potential pandemic by implementing the Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry (WEAVR) database to track health professional volunteers and the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR) – a web-based immunization database that tracks distribution and use of vaccines and anti-virals, as well as much-needed medical supplies, in the event of an outbreak.

In addition, Wisconsin has been chosen as “CDC North.”  At the request of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene is implementing a state of the art molecular test to detect antiviral resistance in influenza viruses.  This will be the first state public health laboratory in the nation to have this capability, and only the second lab in the county to use this technology.  The test will help Wisconsin identify what drugs will best protect the population before a vaccine is developed, and will help identify alternatives for those who cannot take the vaccine and are high risk for complications from influenza.

To learn more about pandemic influenza or about how Wisconsin is preparing for a potential pandemic flu, go to http://dfhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/pandemic.

Read Wisconsin’s Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan: http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/preparedness/pdf_files/WIPandemicInfluenzaPlan.pdf

Read Wisconsin’s Animal Influenza Pandemic Plan: http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/preparedness/pdf_files/WIPandemicfluPlanforanimals.pdf