By Heather Reifsnyder
The School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Preparedness presented an interfaith summit on pandemic influenza November 13 at CrossWalk Church in Redlands.
The summit—called Interfaith Preparedness Summit for Pandemic Influenza: Cultivating a Culture of Preparedness—taught faith leaders and other attendees how to serve as a portal to educate the community for pandemic influenza preparedness.
“The community turns to faith organizations for support and information when an emergency occurs,” says Walleska Bliss, MPH, project manager for faith and community-based preparedness initiatives of the Center for Public Health Preparedness.
History demonstrates that an influenza pandemic strikes about three times each century, according to Jesse Bliss, MPH, director of the School of Public Health’s office of public health practice and workforce development, which encompasses the School’s Center for Public Health Preparedness.
Faith organizations that want to help during times of emergency are better able to serve their communities by disseminating the preparedness message before such events occur. This, when combined with knowledge and understanding of their roles and responsibilities during an emergency, will greatly enhance the preparedness of their communities.
“At the end of this summit, attendees understood how their organization can integrate with regional disaster response efforts,” says Ms. Bliss.
In addition to communication and training information, the summit provided basic knowledge about personal preparedness, non-pharmaceutical public health interventions, and the mental health impact of a public health emergency.