North American countries adopt pandemic coordination plan

A new plan released during the North American Leaders Summit addresses the need for a more coordinated approach to influenza pandemics in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The new North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza, known as NAPAPI, provides, for the first time, a means for the three countries to collaborate on pandemic preparedness and response within the framework of the health, agriculture, security and foreign affairs sectors, according to

The plan includes the development of an interconnected surveillance system and early warning mechanism, as well as protocols for transporting laboratory samples. The three countries have also agreed to conduct joint epidemiological investigations of viruses that could cause pandemics and outbreaks of animal influenza that could threaten human health.

"H1N1 provided a stern reminder that diseases don't respect national borders and can spread rapidly in our interconnected world so protecting health requires cooperation and collaboration among countries," Dr. Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said, reports. "NAPAPI represents a trilateral commitment to enhancing health security across the continent."

The plan builds on the 2007 North American Plan for Avian and Pandemic Influenza and is considered the end result of efforts begun in 2009, when North American leaders met to discuss the learned from the H1N1 pandemic.