US, Canada, Mexico agree to share health emergency communications
The US, Canadian, and Mexican governments formally agreed yesterday that during health emergencies they will share communications plans and statements with one another before releasing them to the public.
The three countries signed a declaration of intent on the subject at the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, according to an announcement from the Canadian government.
“Infectious diseases are not limited by countries’ borders, and neither are the ways through which we receive the news,” Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose stated in the announcement. “This Declaration will help our countries work together on the essential task of communicating more effectively on public health issues, which will protect the health of all of our citizens.”
The declaration of intent calls on the three countries to “share public communications plans, statements and other communications products related to health emergencies with each other prior to their public release.” In addition, the agreement calls for conducting annual joint communications exercises to improve coordination.
The agreement aligns with the requirements of the International Health Regulations, which call for neighboring countries to cooperate on shared public health issues, the Canadian statement said. In addition, it supports the “underlying principles of the 2012 North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (NAPAPI).”
Building on the experiences of the H1N1 influenza pandemic, the NAPAPI outlines how the three countries intend to strengthen and coordinate their emergency response capacities, including public communications, in preparation for a pandemic virus arising in or spreading to North America, the statement said.