Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launches a worldwide communications effort to better prepare communities for the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.
During a press briefing in Geneva, the IFRC announced the campaign, which will be shared with all 186 member Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Entitled “Your best defence is you”, this campaign focuses on five personal protection steps that everyone should take: Wash your hands, cover your mouth, keep your distance, separate your sick and dispose of your wastes.
”Your best defence is you” will be shared through posters, videos, radio spots and online tools that can be easily and quickly adapted in dozens of local languages.
“We are especially concerned about the situation in developing countries, which do not have the same level of medical and monitoring facilities. Vaccines and antivirals may be available in some cases, but the best defence that each and everyone of us has against the H1N1 virus is the basic precautions we can take to avoid catching it”, explains Dr. Tammam Aloudat, an IFRC senior health specialist.
The IFRC also developed a 30-minute e-learning course to help Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers prepare for an influenza pandemic. Now open to the general public, this tool and all other materials are freely available at www.bestdefence.org
“While several countries are running highly effective national information campaigns, ours is designed to be readily accessible to everyone no matter where they are. By mobilizing and supporting our global network, we aim to reach the most remote corners of the world within the next few weeks to ensure that this action is about saving lives”, says Trygve Nordby, Under Secretary General for the IFRC. “To achieve this, we will work closely with national authorities and grassroots organizations. The time is now for a global, concerted effort to restrict the spread of the virus”, he adds.
In tandem with this global effort, the IFRC is providing technical guidance and recommendations to all 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
“These awareness-raising tools include basic guidance for our national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies so they may prepare their organization for a major outbreak, protect their staff and volunteers, and help keep their communities safe”, explains Robert Kaufman, head of the IFRC’s influenza team.
On August 17, the IFRC launched a “call to action” together with the World Health Organization (WHO), OCHA, UNICEF and UNSIC that refers to the role that Red Cross Red Crescent societies can play in responding to the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. The document highlights community information and mobilization as an essential component of international response.