24 Jul 2008

Cooks holds workshops over birdflu threat

1:59 pm on 24 July 2008

The Cook Islands is holding a series of workshops to prepare the country for avian or pandemic influenza.

The workshops have been organised by the Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project and look at ways to reduce the impact should a pandemic strike.

It is being funded by NZAid and AusAid which are running similar projects in Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The locality of the Pacific to countries like Indonesia which are already experiencing significant avian influenza outbreaks makes the region vulnerable to an outbreak.

But the director of health services for Cook Islands, Heather Webber Aitu, says they are constantly trying to raise standards in order to be better prepared.

"We've been preparing now for five years for that eventuality. We have got good procedures in place and we run regular emergency and pandemic exercises so if it happened tomorrow we would at least have an information base and our personal protective equipment will be ready."

The director of health services for Cook Islands, Heather Webber Aitu.