Reliable Security Information


Responding to Swine Flu; Updates and Implications for Healthcare and Homeland Security

There is no effective border strategy for dealing with this. If someone crossing the border were affected, they could well show up at the border "asymptomatic" or with symptoms virtually indistinguishable from other flus and colds. There is no way to stop this at the border. In addition, according to reports from the World Health Organization, the disease has already gone global.

In general there is no major role for homeland security right now. Likewise, it is premature to talk about this as a national security issue. What is troubling about the deaths in Mexico is the high number of deaths in the "otherwise healthy adult" population...usually flu deaths are concentrated in the old and very young. In the US, however, there are more than 20 cases resulting in no fatalities, treatable with available medications. So even if there is a "pandemic," it does not necessarily mean a "killer" pandemic.

This flu is transmitted by humans, so there are lots of common sense ways to avoid getting the flu such as a) wash hands b) keep hands out of eyes, nose, ears, c) if you are sick with flu-like symptoms don't go to work but seek medical assistance, d) sneeze, cough into your sleeve. For more tips go to http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/commoninfections/a/avoiding_flu.htm.

Also track the spread of the flu to understand the threat to your community. There is some advice on how to do that such as http://mashable.com/2009/04/25/track-swine-flu/

The Heritage Foundation has conducted substantial research on both healthcare and homeland security issues. The main conclusion of our research is that the best defense against a terrorist-inflicted or naturally occurring disease outbreak is to have the most robust medical system possible. Thus, the debates about the future of healthcare reform and homeland security should not be divorced from one another. In particular, the Foundation's special report "Healthcare and Homeland Security" found that:

Disaster preparedness cannot focus solely on preventing terrorist acts. We know that at some point another disaster, man-made or natural, will come our way. An essential component of national response is the capability to respond quickly and effectively to that next crisis. For that to happen, we need to move now to strengthen the capacity and resilience of our health care delivery services, involving everything from detecting contagious disease outbreaks through organizing the public health response. Strategic solutions are needed that can garner broad political support. Disincentives and inhibitors in our current systems must be addressed. The good news is that many of the efforts envisioned to address overall problems in the health care system will also benefit emergency response preparedness and other elements of homeland security. These will likely take time to bring to fruition. In the interim, we need incremental and tactical solutions to provide immediate improvements and lay the groundwork for achieving strategic goals.

The report offers dozen of short, mid, and long-term recommendations.

 
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