U.N. begins preparedness exercise

The United Nations kicked off a four-day pandemic preparedness exercise this week in southeast Asia with the intent to increase the region’s ability to handle the widespread effects that accompany a pandemic.

U.N. officials said the exercise, which is being held in the Phnom Penh region of Cambodia, is the first of its kind where multiple nations will unite to simulate different pandemic effects in a single region, the UN News Centre reports

Nhim Vanda, a senior disaster management official with the Cambodian Government, said he thinks the exercise will be a valuable teaching tool.

“This event provides the opportunity to bring the multi-sector preparedness focus to a regional level,” Vanda told the UN News Centre.

The exercise is designed to study how an outbreak would impact several essential services simultaneously in a given area. Impacted services that will be examined during the exercise include energy, transportation and healthcare.

U.N. officials said the exercise will simulate a communicable disease emergency on the fictional continent of Pandemica, which has five countries with similar economic and infrastructural conditions to southeast Asia.

Participants in the exercise include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, along with the U.N. and other humanitarian organizations. The U.N. is co-hosting the exercise with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United States Agency for International Development.