Avian Influenza and Business Continuity


Business Continuity Planning
Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning is an exercise in protecting your organization’s assets…your business and its revenue stream. The process involves contemplating all types of possible disasters, considering their likelihood and putting measures in place to mitigate the overall risk to the organization. T

he measures put into place need to balance the negative impact upon the business with the costs and practicality of such measures and with the unique requirements of the business. Disaster planning becomes a balance of looking at the likelihood of different disasters and putting measures in place to deal and mitigate with those that are most likely and those that have the most impact. It is typically a process that plans for the worst, while the business hopes for the best. It usually runs through many scenarios contemplating everything from equipment failure to such regional issues as weather, to crime and civil unrest or accidents. 

Avian Flu Continuity Planning is a subset of over all disaster recovery that has very specific potential effects and issues associated with it. It also is somewhat different in that with Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning usually is somewhat limited in scope to the operations of an individual business or geographic area. It typically does not consider the lack of and loss of people in the numbers that could be anticipated with an Avian flu. It also does not usually consider the length of time of the event or the widespread nature of the event. 

Avian Flu planning anticipates business interruption as well as societal interruption that could be global as opposed to in an individual business or limited area. While the key to a successful and effective Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan is to understand your business’s critical business assets and systems and understand how the loss of them could impact the business, Avian flu planning further concentrates on the overall scarcity of resources that could occur with a global event effecting the health and well being of people in a wide spread epidemic or pandemic..  
What is an Epidemic and a Pandemic? 
Webster’s Dictionary defines an Epidemic as: 
1 : affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time <typhoid was epidemic>
2 a : excessively prevalent b : CONTAGIOUS  <epidemic laughter>
3 : of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic <the practice had reached epidemic proportions” 

And a Pandemic as: 
“occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population <pandemic malaria” 

Planning for a Pandemic?
Instead of planning for the very well publicized and documented business disasters and emergencies such as the tragic events of 9/11, hurricanes, recent regional black-outs, major earthquakes etc. or even the majority of business disasters resulting from far more mundane, common and isolated occurrences – technical failures, fires, isolated power outages, employee mistakes or threats, viruses – denial of service, faulty sprinkler systems, traffic accidents that preclude people from reaching facilities, etc. Pandemic planning must consider the ripple effects such an event would entail for the organization. 

Imagine a scenario in which: 
· Your business must run without up to 40% of you staff,

· International suppliers unable to ship goods to you

· Air travel and public transportation unavailable

· Demand down or shifted for your core goods and services

· Distribution channels completely disrupted and potentially unavailable

· Your existing staff wearing masks,· Management and department heads ill or caring for ill family members

· Food and water in short supply

· Repair services unavailable for your infrastructure or production equipment, etc. 

The truth is that the World Health Organization predicts that up to 40% of people will be ill or caring for others that are ill if there is a mutation such that Avian Flu can be passed from human to human, and a Pandemic occurs. In addition the creation of a vaccine is a minimum of 6 months away once this mutation occurs. In this context, serious planning is surely a matter of due diligence.

Further Information
For further information see our section on the Avian Influenza Continuity Kit


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