|Advance Planning and Public-Private Partnerships Needed for Effective Response|
A simulated influenza pandemic conducted by the World Economic Forum and global management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton found that a widespread outbreak of avian flu would severely challenge governments and the private sector to manage essential services, limit the spread of the pandemic and communicate essential information.
More than 30 CEOs and senior executives from leading corporations, private and public sector institutions and governments gathered on January 26, 2006 at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland to explore the implications of an influenza pandemic.
The simulation examined the impact of a hypothetical influenza pandemic in Germany that originated in Eastern Europe. Given the numerous incidences of avian influenza infections today, there is growing consensus among health experts that the global community is increasingly at risk of a deadly influenza pandemic. In the simulation, the pandemic rapidly spreads across the region, and Germany, along with much of the continent, experiences an almost complete halt in everyday life.
"Governments and business organizations need to work together to improve their ability to manage a possible avian flu pandemic," said Heather Burns, Senior Vice President of Booz Allen. "The time to start preparing is now."
Key insights from the simulation participants include:
-- The world will shift from "one of equals" to "not all equal," as essential workers in health care and other industries need to be vaccinated so they can keep working.
-- Essential services and employees need to be prioritized - before an influenza attack - to maintain continuity.
-- Non-essential services must be shut down in an orderly manner.
-- Telecommunications will likely be overwhelmed early in the pandemic. Some experts speculated that the Internet could shut down within two to four days of the outbreak. This implies that government and businesses must coordinate and plan for the use of alternative communications channels--and telecommuting will not be a viable option. A method of prioritizing Internet access would be needed to allow key organizations and individuals to access information and communicate necessary actions.
-- Governments will likely direct the general population to stay in their homes, and to minimize social contact.
-- As a result, the government may need to assume national control, as in wartime, of critical infrastructure and resources including food, fuel, and healthcare. In addition, governments will need to assume responsibility for the "last mile" in delivery of food and other critical supplies to the populace.
"Maintaining business continuity is critical to the welfare of the general population," said Alain Baumann, Director, Healthcare Industries for The World Economic Forum. "The business community will play an essential role in an effective response."
Additional findings from the simulation include:
-- Governments will need to establish and communicate guidelines to the public for seeking healthcare--as well as priorities for application of prevention and treatment by the healthcare sector. Rules will need to be made for the consideration of the critically ill versus others. Alternate facilities, such as schools and churches, will need to become hospitals.
-- The recovered will need to fill vacant essential jobs; conscription of the recovered (now in effect vaccinated) will likely be necessary to fill vacant essential jobs. These individuals will probably require a minimal level of training to perform the critical functions.
-- Media can play an important role in communicating critical information from the government and businesses to the public and employees. People will want to know what is happening--and "flu-casters" can help calm and assure the public that progress is being made.
About Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of management consulting for businesses and governments for over 90 years. Integrating the full range of consulting capabilities, Booz Allen is the one firm that helps clients solve their toughest problems, working by their side to help them achieve their missions. Booz Allen is committed to delivering results that endure.
With more than 17,000 employees on six continents, the firm generates annual sales over $3.5 billion. Booz Allen has been recognized as a consultant and employer of choice. In 2005 and 2006, Fortune magazine named Booz Allen one of "The 100 Best Companies to Work For," and for the past seven years, Working Mother has ranked the firm among its "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers."
To learn more about the firm, visit the Booz Allen Web site at www.boozallen.com. To learn more about the best ideas in business, visit www.strategy-business.com, the Web site for strategy+business, a quarterly journal sponsored by Booz Allen.
About The World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. (www.weforum.org)