Avian Flu Response Planning Widespread

July 6, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Almost three-fourths of the 553 global companies that responded to a recent survey said they either have a plan to deal with an Avian flu pandemic or have made significant progress in putting one together.

According to a news release from The Conference Board, which conducted the survey, 85% of the participants began their planning efforts for a pandemic response within the last 12 months.

About one quarter of the responding companies were without a specific Avian flu pandemic preparedness strategy, and about half of those without such a strategy do not see such planning as a current business priority. Twenty percent said they feel that their existing business continuity plan is sufficient to manage the threat.

“As concern about the possibility of an Avian flu pandemic becomes increasingly widespread across the globe, a large number of companies are taking steps toward adopting a risk mitigation strategy,” said Amy Kao, co-author of the report from The Conference Board with David Vidal, the research director of The Conference Board’s Global Corporate Citizenship.

Large Companies

According to the news release, l arge and publicly held companies appear to be the most advanced in their preparations for a possible Avian flu pandemic. About 95% of companies with more than $5 billion in sales either have a plan ready or are in the process of preparing one. But, 65% of companies with less than $100 million do not yet have any plans in place addressing the impact of an influenza pandemic.

The most significant disadvantage in not conducting formal pandemic preparedness planning may be the almost total absence of coordination with the public sector, according to The Conference Board. An overwhelming 94% of participating companies report that they have not had discussions with any level of government officials about their organization’s ability to provide essential services or access to facilities, equipment or staff during a pandemic.

Companies in the health care, energy/utilities, chemical manufacturing and computer/technology manufacturing industries ranked at the top for either having a plan in place or being in the process of planning one. Health care and computer/technology manufacturing industries are farther along in their planning efforts, with 30% of those in both industries having a complete plan ready in the event of a pandemic.

Since most companies surveyed began pandemic preparation planning in the last 12 months, survey results showed companies in all phases of planning, from those with a completed pandemic preparedness plan (12%) to those in an embryonic stage of identifying a pandemic coordinator but which have not yet begun the planning process (13%).

Some companies plan to gather additional human resources by pooling with other organizations (34%) and contracting retired workers to come back to work temporarily to ensure that critical positions are filled (25%).

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