Planning for Catastrophe : How France Prepares for the Avian Flu and What it Means for Resilience - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Book Sections Year : 2009

Planning for Catastrophe : How France Prepares for the Avian Flu and What it Means for Resilience

Claude Gilbert
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Abstract

We are witnessing the emergence of new threats with fairly specific characteristics. The scale on which they unfold is wide and increasingly global. Their effects can be ascribed to specific agents or events as much as to vulnerabilities peculiar to today's societies. Health threats top the list of these future threats. Epidemics and pandemics are once again provoking concern, especially the possibility of an avian flu-related pandemic on a global scale. This is not simply a matter of a revival of old threat agents; it is the emergence of a new type of threat whose characteristics demand new forms of crisis management.
Most countries have taken and still take this threat very seriously, despite its highly hypothetical nature. This is especially the case in France. The alerts of the World Health Organization (WHO) prompted the French government to devise a response plan that has since been updated annually (Plan 'Pandémie Grippale' 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007). Concrete actions were swiftly initiated in addition to the creation of a regularly updated plan, including the appointment of an inter-ministerial delegate specifically in charge of combating a flu pandemic (August 2005). Working groups were set up in various ministries; an inter-ministerial dialogue was initiated, first limited to the ministries that seemed to be most immediately concerned (agriculture, health, interior) and then slowly expanded. Substantial funds were earmarked to support these actions. In parallel, programmes were launched in the public research sector to promote the development of specific studies in this field (essentially in the life sciences).
Yet, despite this seemingly full-scale mobilization, an important question needs to be considered, concerning France and probably other countries as well. To what extent have the authorities and experts that confront the threat of a pandemic really taken note of the characteristics of this type of situation? In this chapter, I address this question and argue that the idea of resilience (e.g. the capacity for collective action in the face of unexpected extreme events that shatter infrastructure and disrupt normal operating conditions) needs to be given more attention.
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halshs-00381302 , version 1 (05-05-2009)

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  • HAL Id : halshs-00381302 , version 1

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Claude Gilbert. Planning for Catastrophe : How France Prepares for the Avian Flu and What it Means for Resilience. Boin, Arjen, Comfort, Louise K. Demchak Chris. Designing Resilience for Extreme Events: Sociotechnical Approaches, University of Pittsburgh Press, pp.252-268, 2009. ⟨halshs-00381302⟩
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