To their credit, they are asking stakeholders to submit questions that they would like to see addressed ahead of time.
Discussion Topic Question Submittal
Please take a moment to submit any questions you may have on the topics to be discussed to assist us with insuring your questions are addressed during the time provided for discussion. While opportunities will be provided during the discussion to ask questions, we are attempting to insure all questions are addressed during the related topical session.
I only found out about this meeting 2 days ago. Seeing as I am in the middle of the mad rush trying to accomplish our goals for ReadyMoms.org grassroots community engagement exhibit at the APHA Expo with too few of us (between 2-4 people) and too little lead time (2 weeks!), I am writing up questions only just now. I will post them at the ASPR site, but since these are issues of public interest, I am posting them here for public discussion as well.
Here's my first question. I will most likely write up others in between talking to people at the booth (probably when I have to sit down cos my feet are killing me!!). I hope this is not too late in the day for these questions to be included in the meeting.
The largest single group of at-risk individuals in the next pandemic will likely be children and their families. A new grassroots initiative at the APHA Expo, ReadyMoms.org, expressed their concerns in the following statement:
We are parents concerned about the potential impact of the next pandemic on children, families, and communities.
We are especially concerned about the following:
- If a 1918-like pandemic happens today, communities will suffer 20 years of normal child deaths (aged 1-19) in the space of one season.
- The current H5N1 avian influenza virus is causing human infections with an overall case fatality rate (CFR) of 60%.
- This CFR rises to 75% for those aged 10-19.
- H5N1 has to become 30 times (NOT 30%) weaker to match the 2% CFR of the 1918 pandemic.
- A WHO working group report in 2006 tells us that "the present high lethality could be maintained during a pandemic" caused by H5N1.
We believe parents have a right to be given this information, and be supported to make the decisions that are best for their family.
We believe that failure to assist families to make informed choices will result in severe social disharmony as bereaved parents take their wrath against officials who have failed them.
We believe it is possible to protect our families with adequate implementation of the social distancing measures as specifically recommended by the CDC, especially early and proactive school closure.
We believe these same measures will also make it safe for essential workers to go to work.
We understand that implementation of these measures will require communities to make some tough choices between the cost to the economy and saving lives.
We believe that such choices cannot and should not be made FOR families and communities, only BY them.
The question that I would like to see addressed, is how specifically is the ASPR office working to ensure the safety of children in the next pandemic.
More importantly, to the extent that the 'right to information' is a fundamental human right clearly set out in the various international Human Rights Covenants to which the US is a signatory, and that the right to equal protection is enshrined in the US Constitution (Fourteenth Amendment), what is being done currently and in the near term, to ensure that all American parents are adequately informed, equally and without discrimination, of the risks so that they can be assisted to make the right decisions about preparedness for their families.
UPDATE 1 I have put up a poll, to be used as an unofficial PETITION, to show the level of support or concern (or otherwise) on this question. It is on the frontpage, right column.
UPDATE 2 For a more in-depth exploration of this and related issues, read also the commentary written for the ReadyMoms exhibit posters, By Parents, for Families