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Public Health Events & Aviation

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Volcanic Ash

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Chemical Events

Public health events are defined by the World Health Organization as any event that represents an immediate threat to human health and requires prompt action, i.e. the implementation of control and/or mitigation measures to protect the health of the public. Public health events may be caused by biological, chemical or radiological agents and may vary greatly in terms of severity, requiring different degrees of response. This term includes events that have not yet led to disease in humans but have the potential to cause disease through the exposure of humans to infected or contaminated food, water, animals, manufactured products, environments, or as a result of direct or indirect consequences of natural events, conflicts or other disruptions of critical infrastructure.

A disease, such as avian influenza, poses a substantial risk to the global population because at some, unpredictable, point in the future a strain may emerge that transmits easily between humans. If this occurs, the aviation community may be asked by the World Health Organization (WHO) to take action in order to assist in limiting its spread by air transport. Further, the economy of the aviation sector, and industries that rely on it, will undoubtedly be detrimentally affected as passengers choose to avoid flying to areas where there is a perceived increased risk of disease. For both reasons, it is therefore necessary to plan for such an event, in order to mitigate the effects of a human outbreak.
ICAO though the CAPSCA programme is coordinating an international effort to bring together expertise from such organizations as the WHO, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and other partners to assist in preparedness planning, not only for pandemic influenza but for other communicable diseases or other types of public health event that might cause a public health emergency. 

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