Responding to warnings that a worldwide outbreak of a deadly respiratory virus is unavoidable, Minnesota health officials have invited the public to respond to a specialty panels recommendations on how the state should prepare for a severe flu pandemic.
The project was organized by the Minnesota Center for Health Care Ethics and the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics under a contract with the Minnesota Department of Health. A panel of health ethicists, healthcare providers, community leaders and representatives from government and business developed preliminary recommendations on necessary resources, as well as suggested strategies for implementation. Both preliminary reports are posted on the state Health Departments Web site.
According to the recommendations, experts assumed that a flu pandemic will be severe, and that more than 100 million people around the world could die, based on projections from the so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. The panel addressed the types of medical resources that will be neededsuch as antiviral medications, respirators, vaccines and mechanical ventilatorsand determined a set of priorities for how to allocate those resources. The panel also developed a set of fairness goals, which include removing barriers that could impede access to healthcare resources; giving priority to people who knowingly accept risk of infection as part of their jobs; and using a fairly designed random process to allocate resources after the other fairness goals have been met.
The public comment period for the recommendations is open until March 16.