Communicable Diseases and Air Travel:
The APAC Perspective
N.C. Sekhar joined In 2006, ICAO established the Aviation Medicine Team (RAMT) has
the ICAO APAC Cooperative Agreement for Preventing now been established by the SCM.
Office in the Spread of Communicable Diseases
November 2006 through Air Travel (CAPSCA) aimed at Three RAMT meetings have also taken
as Regional reducing the risk of spreading avian place in Bangkok: one in October 2007;
Officer/AGA. influenza and similar communicable the next in Sept 2008; and the most
diseases by air travelers through recent in September 2009. The Fourth
cooperative arrangements between the Meeting of the CAPSCA Steering
participating States/Administrations Committee and Workshop/Seminar on
The spread of severe acute respiratory and airports. This would be achieved Aviation Business Continuity Planning
syndrome (SARS) in 2003 raised initially by the application and was held recently in Kuala Lumpur,
concerns for ICAO, the World Health implementation of ICAO guidelines. Malaysia, from 24–26 May 2010.
Organization (WHO) and a number of
States and Special Administrative The CAPSCA project provides on-site The next major event in this field will be
Regions (SARs) in South East Asia. training in the public health domain at the Global RAMT from October 15–16
This led to the development and major international airports in 2010. It will be held at the Singapore
implementation of Anti-SARS protective participating States. ICAO guidelines for Aviation Academy and will aim to
measures and guidelines at certain States are available via the ICAO Web ensure the worldwide coordination of
airports as a means of controlling the site. To date, China, Hong Kong China, technical CAPSCA project activities.
disease and preventing its spread Indonesia, Macao China, Malaysia,
through air travel. The SARS outbreak Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, ICAO has developed a template for a
had devasting effects on air traffic to, The Philippines, Singapore, The National Aviation Preparedness Plan,
from and within the affected areas. Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tonga, and which will be presented at the
Vietnam have joined this cooperative upcoming APAC Regional Aviation
The onset and widespread effects of arrangement. Medicine Team Meeting in October
avian Influenza in 2005 raised even 2010. ICAO will continue to work with
greater concerns regarding the The first Steering Committee Meeting airline and airport operators,
possibility of a human pandemic. The (SCM) of CAPSCA was held in Hong international organizations, experts and
unpredictable behavior of this influenza Kong China in August 2007, the second governments to ensure that
virus was a challenge, as neither SCM was held in Indonesia in June involvement and coordination continues
the timing nor the severity of the next 2008, and the third SCM was held in regarding preparedness for pandemic
pandemic could be predicted with Macao China in June 2009. A Regional influenza and to maintain the continuity
any certainty. and safety of air travel in general.
ICAO’s Global and Regional Initiatives
RECENT CHANGES TO HEALTH-RELATED ICAO PROVISIONS
Article 14 of the Chicago Convention on ■■ Annex 6—Operation of Aircraft Preparatory action plans should include
International Civil Aviation requires An aeroplane shall be equipped with Public Health Emergencies.
each contracting State to take effective accessible and adequate medical ■■ PANS-ATM
measures to prevent the spread of supplies. On board medical supplies Communications procedures with
communicable diseases by means of should include a ‘Universal Precaution Kit’. affected aircraft.
air navigation. ICAO, in coordination Annex 9—Facilitation Annex 14—Aerodrome Design and
APAC Regional Report – 2010
with its Member States, has developed A Contracting State shall establish a Operations
Preparedness Planning Guidelines National Aviation Plan in preparation for The Aerodrome Emergency Plan shall
(Aviation Aspects) for a Communicable an outbreak of a communicable disease provide for the coordination of the actions
posing a public health risk or public health to be taken in an emergency occurring
Disease of Public Health Concern to
emergency of international concern. at an aerodrome or in its vicinity. The
prevent the spread of avian influenza
■■ Annex 11—Air Traffic Services action plan should include public health
and similar communicable diseases by
Air Traffic services authorities shall develop emergencies.
air travelers and to mitigate the
and promulgate contingency plans.