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Home News centre National Press Releases 2007 Press Releases ›  Agency Emergency Expertise in Demand Around the World

Agency Emergency Expertise in Demand Around the World

19 September 2007

The Health Protection Agency is rapidly gaining a reputation for delivering expert training and exercises at senior government level across Europe and beyond, the Agency's fifth annual conference will hear today.

The Agency's Emergency Response Department, based at its Centre at Porton Down, has for a number of years been developing and running various exercises to test UK plans to deal with scenarios from Bird Flu to Bioterrorist attacks. Building on this strong foundation, the team has recently been invited to support the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in delivering ministerial level exercises in states like Armenia and Moldova in Eastern Europe.

The conference will hear it is important that governments around the world think about and plan how they would implement healthcare measures to protect their populations because of increasing international travel and because infectious diseases or pandemics do not recognise national boundaries.

In 2005, the team delivered two pan-European exercises called 'New Watchman' and 'Common Ground', the latter of which tested Europe 's response to an outbreak of pandemic influenza, a threat which has not gone away. Looking forward, the team has been invited to run three more international events with colleagues in WHO and FAO in Eastern Europe and Eurasia .

Dr Paul Riley, Head of Exercises and Events, explained that the principal challenge of working with diverse governments as clients is the variety of ways they structure their individual health and agricultural systems. "Therefore, to deliver an effective exercise, you need to understand how each of the different systems work. However, by adapting and targeting exercises at ministerial level, we have successfully applied a top down approach to get people within those systems talking and communicating with one another", Dr Riley said. "The key is to develop joined-up approaches to prepare for and react to such threats".


Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health Protection Agency's Annual Conference takes place at Warwick University from 17 to 19 September. Further information can be found at the conference website at  

  2. Please contact the CEPR press office for general press enquiries on 07887 656001

  3. The conference press office can be contacted each day of the conference on 07976 245633 or 07884 265449

Last reviewed: 30 December 2008