PANDEMIC


Unlike regional events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or terrorist attacks, a pandemic is a recurring global event with global implications. Thus, outbreaks of influenza A (H1N1), for example, have underscored the critical importance of effective pandemic planning and response to minimize the potential for human morbidity and mortality, reduce social and economic disruptions, and mitigate against organizational risk exposures.

Pandemic RiskGiven the unique attributes of each pandemic and how each evolves, such situations should be monitored closely. Pandemic plans and responses must include the ability to react quickly and be flexible to changing scenarios in accordance with the phase of the pandemic. The hardest hit companies in any industry are likely to be those with worldwide operations, global supply chains, and/or international customers. Additionally, as seen with influenza A (H1N1), local, state, and national governments may curtail travel, close schools, quarantine individuals and communities, and/or ban public gatherings.

While managing through the potential impacts of an outbreak may seem daunting, organizations with tried and tested tools, processes, and procedures, as well as an understanding of available risk transfer options, will be able to better protect employees, preserve revenue streams, and meet organizational resiliency objectives.

Preparing for and Responding to a Pandemic

Marsh recommends that organizations review their ability to respond to potential disruptions to their operations and protect the well-being of employees — whether caused by a pandemic or other unforeseen events. Some of the many issues and actions to be considered in relation to a potential pandemic include:

  • Treat a pandemic as a truly catastrophic event as opposed to a "manageable disruption."
  • Establish pandemic planning committees, supported by real budgets.
  • Review business continuity management (BCM) and crisis management plans to determine if they include pandemic scenarios; exercise the plans where possible.
  • Review current insurance coverages to determine which might be applicable and what others might be available to cover pandemic exposures.
  • Prioritize critical products and services and prepare to protect those, even at the expense of other important elements of a business model.
  • Estimate and plan for post-pandemic changes, including shifts in demand patterns, and the availability and morale of staff, vendors, and infrastructure, locally and globally.
When a pandemic does occur, Marsh recommends that organizations:

  • Assess existing pandemic risk management plans and how the organization is performing to date in relation to the current outbreak.
  • Review company policies on travel, hygiene, and anti-viral medications and health care support to ensure they are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and similar organizations.
  • In highly populated areas, ensure the BCM plans allow for staff to work at home where appropriate.
  • Consider if there are any vital processes that must be maintained, such as call centers, health services, and services vital to those most vulnerable.
  • Decide what other core functions need to be kept running if the organization becomes short staffed.
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Marsh Insights: Ebola: How Prepared is Your Organzation?
November 04, 2014  |  Views: 4026 |  Comments: 0 
Marsh Insights: Ebola: How Prepared is Your Organzation?
Since the initial discovery of Ebola in 1976, Africa has experienced a number of small- and mid-size outbreaks. There have been sporadic outbreaks of four different strains of Ebol...  Read More...
Ebola Epidemic Raises Preparedness Concerns
August 04, 2014  |  Views: 11390 |  Comments: 0 
Ebola Epidemic Raises Preparedness Concerns
Authorities are concerned about West Africa’s ability to contain the virus.  Read More...
Marsh Insights: Pandemic Risk Preparation: H7N9 and MERS-COV
June 13, 2013  |  Views: 9425 |  Comments: 0  | Article Rating
Marsh Insights: Pandemic Risk Preparation: H7N9 and MERS-COV
Two new viruses have emerged around the world that could lead to an epidemic or pandemic situation. Marsh Risk Consulting (MRC) is closely monitoring the potential threats identifi...  Read More...
Marsh Insights: NDM-1 Superbug in Canada: How will it impact your Business?
February 04, 2013  |  Views: 11499 |  Comments: 0  | Article Rating
Marsh Insights: NDM-1 Superbug in Canada: How will it impact your Business?
Recently, Canadian organizations across all industries were challenged with the potential of a pandemic that not only threatened their human capital, but which also tested the poli...  Read More...
Marsh Insights: Pandemic Preparedness and Response
March 07, 2012  |  Views: 9228 |  Comments: 0  | Article Rating
Marsh Insights: Pandemic Preparedness and Response
Recent infectious disease outbreaks such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), H5N1 (i.e. Avian flu), and H1N1 (i.e. Swine flu) have captured worldwide attention. Health exp...  Read More...
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Pandemic Risk
April 21, 2014  |  Views: 24093 |  Comments: 0  | Article Rating
Pandemic Risk
Recent infectious disease outbreaks such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), H5N1 (i.e. Avian flu), and H1N1 (i.e. Swine flu) have captured worldwide attention. Health exp...  Read More...
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Avian Influenza Pandemic Potential New Threat to Asia, Other Regions
September 16, 2011  |  Views: 18608 |  Comments: 0 
Avian Influenza Pandemic Potential New Threat to Asia, Other Regions
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) urged global leaders to consider heightened preparedness and surveillance as it appears that a mutant strain of H5N1 is s...  Read More...
Resurgence of Bedbugs Places Retail/Wholesale Businesses at Risk
September 27, 2010  |  Views: 18395 |  Comments: 0  | Article Rating
Resurgence of Bedbugs Places Retail/Wholesale Businesses at Risk
A resurgence of bedbug infestations across the U.S. has become a growing concern for homeowners and commercial businesses nationwide.  Read More...
Marsh Survey to Measure Pandemic Preparedness
May 10, 2010  |  Views: 17794 |  Comments: 0  | Article Rating
Marsh Survey to Measure Pandemic Preparedness
Marsh Risk Consulting (MRC) is conducting a major survey to benchmark the ability of organizations to respond to the threat of a pandemic that originates in, or spreads to, China.   Read More...
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Contacts
Nora Constas
nora.constas@marsh.com