TRIANGLE CENTER FORUM BRINGS TOGETHER JOURNALISTS, PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS AVIAN INFLUENZA AND PANDEMIC FLU
In an event developed by the Triangle Center, sixty journalists and public health communication officials gathered at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication for a one-day program on North Carolina's preparedness for avian influenza. Participants received briefings on the the basic science of avian influenza - how it forms, how it mutates, and how it spreads - from Dr. Barrett Slenning of the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, as well as an analysis of the potential economic impact of an avian influenza outbreak on the North Carolina economy. These briefings established the baseline for two panel discussions: one on government and industy's plans for responding to an outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in North Carolina's poultry industry, and the second on human pandemic influenza preparedness. Throughout the day, panelists and participants grappled with the issue of how best to communicate the facts about this disease to the public and steps that ought to be taken before any outbreak to assure effective communication and reduce public panic. Some of the lessons of the day included:
** Government and industry need to have a clear, conisistent message about public health risks and provide access to credible experts to back up this message;
** Public health communication specialists should develop concise materials in advance that explain the responsive actions that are being taken and lists experts in the field for journalists to contact;
** Forums should be held to provide critics of the response plans an opportunity to be heard and for those criticisms to be addressed by government and industry; and
** Public health communications are most effective if the public is provided with simple steps they can take to protect themselves. General descriptions of the threat that do not provide instructions on what to do can lead to either inaction or panic.
The event was cosponsored by the North Carolina Center on Public Health Preparedness, the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Triangle Center.
CENTER BEGINS MULTIDISCIPLINARY FACULTY SYMPOSIA
In November, the Triangle Center held its first faculty seminar at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University. Presentations were made by representatives of each of the Center’s sponsors. Scott Silliman of Duke Law School spoke about the activities of the Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security and his recent work advising Congress on legislation to authorize military tribunals to try terrorist suspects. Noel Greis of UNC’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise discussed the use of intelligent software and sensors for aviation security and other applications. Joe Eyerman of RTI, International presented the results of his study of interagency coordination between law enforcement and public health authorities and its implications for disaster preparedness and response.
The seminar was noteworthy for both the quality of the presentations speakers and the attendees’ broad range of backgrounds and research interests. The event brought together university based scholars, private sector researchers, entrepreneurs, and federal government officials with backgrounds in the fields of engineering, law, public health, medicine, public policy, statistics, business, and computer science.
Future seminars will focus on intelligence analysis tools for law enforcement and pandemic preparedness.
WEBSITE LAUNCHED: WWW.TCTHS.ORG
The Triangle Center’s website is up and running, featuring news and information about the Center, tools for assisting in homeland security and terrorism research, and lists of courses and internship opportunities for students interested in these topics. The site also contains an interactive database of experts in terrorism and homeland security related fields. The database can be searched by name, keywords, and field of research by those both inside and outside the university community.
Faculty and RTI scholars wishing to be added to the experts database should contact Sarah Danielson at email@example.com
Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, 302 Towerview Drive,
Box 90250, Durham, NC 27708
phone: (919) 613-9279