American Samoa's Governor, Togiola Tulafono, has sent legislation to the Fono that would update the territory's public health laws and properly prepare American Samoa for the possibility of a public health disaster or emergency.
Togiola says with the looming threat of bird flu, natural disasters such as category 5 cyclones and tsunamis, and international terrorism, American Samoa must accept that the territory is part of the global community.
He says the territory can no longer afford to be left behind in terms of being adequately equipped for future problems and must ensure that all that can be done is put into action when the time comes.
The measure clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of the Health Department for its everyday functions as well as its duties and obligations during a public health emergency.
It further mandates a mission statement for the Department of Health, as well as require a carefully crafted response plan to be implemented once a public health emergency has been declared.