1.1 The Scottish Government has comprehensive contingency planning arrangements in place for responding to an exotic animal disease outbreak. Each outbreak or incident of exotic notifiable disease of animals requires effective communication; whether that is between government and those dealing with the disease; or with stakeholders, animal keepers, the public and the media. Accurate and timely updates on the latest situation are essential in helping reduce the impact and spread of disease or any potential impacts on human health.
1.2 Every disease outbreak presents some variation in scenario and response, meaning that a 'one size fits all' approach to communications is unsuitable. Also, in the event that an outbreak crosses one or more border, communications will need to be coordinated across the other affected administrations. Setting out the roles and responsibilities of the organisations and agencies involved will help ensure gaps in communication are minimised and communications are kept clear and consistent.
1.3 This Communications Strategy sets out the objectives for the communications aspects of a disease control response. It details the responsibilities of those involved in the disease response, from suspicion and subsequent confirmation of disease through to its eradication, and their relationships; and describes communication activities at the GB, national and local level. (Throughout this document the term "national" refers to Scottish arrangements or policies. UK or GB arrangements or policies are identified separately.) Planning is also considered, as it helps to ensure a comprehensive communications response can be delivered in the event of a disease outbreak, and that all those involved or affected are included in that process.
1.4 This Communications Strategy has been updated in line with organisational restructuring of organisations (the Scottish Government and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)) who lead in animal disease prevention and control in Scotland. APHA is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), working across Great Britain on behalf of Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government. The strategy has also been updated to align with the latest publication of both:
- A revised "Scottish Government Exotic Diseases of Animals Contingency Framework Plan" and;
- The "Scottish Regional Resilience Partnerships' Framework for Exotic Notifiable Animal Diseases Contingency Plan"
1.5 In addition to the above plans, the Communications Strategy should be read in conjunction with Management of Public Health Incidents: Guidance on the Roles and Responsibilities of NHS led Incident Management Teams.
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