On November 10, 2009 at 12:00 noon EST Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Shawn Atleo will co-host a Virtual Summit on H1N1 preparedness for First Nations communities.

"The Government of Canada has been working closely with First Nations to help them prepare for the H1N1 Flu Virus. Vaccinations are well underway in several communities across the country", said Minister Aglukkaq. This unique outreach activity is yet another way we are reaching out and communicating with Canada's indigenous peoples.

This live nation-wide webcast will be accessible to all who wish to participate and will feature presentations by key officials, and question and answer sessions on issues related to H1N1 in on-reserve First Nations, including remote and isolated communities. The Virtual Summit will include discussions on the preparations and active implementation of measures being used to deal with the second wave of H1N1, including the distribution of vaccines and antiviral drugs for First Nations communities. There will also be video profiles of planning and preparedness efforts in two First Nations communities and an expert panel Question and Answer session.

"When I took office and the H1N1 issue arose, it became quickly apparent that there were differing levels of information and understanding between jurisdictions. This was not helpful for First Nations, for individuals or for emergency planning. The Virtual Summit is an important tool that will ensure we're working from shared knowledge of the level of preparedness in First Nations communities and that First Nations have an opportunity to ensure their concerns, issues and ideas are addressed in planning and preparedness efforts," said National Chief Shawn Atleo.

The Virtual Summit stems from the Communications Protocol signed by the Assembly of First Nations, Health Canada, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada on September 19th which commits all partners to work together to plan for and respond quickly and effectively to an H1N1 flu-virus pandemic in First Nation communities.

Specific areas of communication are being addressed through the development of a variety of communications tools, such as public health notices for print and radio media and posters on promotion and prevention, to meet the needs of First Nations.

To date, 96% of First Nations communities have a community-level pandemic influenza pandemic plan in place.

To watch the Virtual Summit on November 10, 2009, go to: fnh1n1summit

Health Canada

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