SU-DRS-05-2019: Demonstration of novel concepts for the management of pandemic crises
Type of Action: Inovation Action (IA)
Demonstration of intelligent decizion support for pandemic crisis prediction and management within and across European boards (STAMINA)
Communicable diseases have the potential to result in serious cross-border public health threats. The pandemic influenza (H1N1) in 2009, the 2011 Escherichia Coli outbreak in Germany, the Ebola virus in 2014, Zika virus in 2016 and West Nile virus in Southern and Eastern European countries in 2019 all show that new infections can emerge at any time. Four major factors have been identified that allow pathogens to cause epidemics and pandemics, and the phenomenon of “false” spikes in epidemic data has been studied. The first and most important factor is “Human population dynamics and behaviour”. As more people populate the planet, there is a greater possibility someone will encounter a pathogen that will spread to others. And, as we are traveling greater distances today than before, this allows pathogens to spread more rapidly over greater distances. This represents one of the reasons of ongoing outbreak of Ebola. Another major factor is the “Change in insect or reservoir populations”. As a pathogen finds its way into new carriers, it can reach new ecosystems and populations, especially in combination with the previous factor. This was critical to the spread of the West Nile virus which finds new environments to flourish within species of birds and mosquitoes. To date, the largest outbreaks are documented in areas along the major migratory routes of birds in Greece, Israel, Romania, Russia and the USA. Certainly, the second factor is further exacerbated by factor number three: “Weather and climate changes”. Changes in weather and the climate can drive some animals carrying pathogens to different areas, where they could spread disease to people. At the same time, complications due to “Changes to the pathogens themselves” elevate exponentially. The flu virus is a great example of how mutations can allow viruses to spread widely among populations. The influenza virus changes on a regular basis creating the need to develop a new flu vaccine each season, while some strains of flu have the potential to cause pandemics. Finally, “Technological progress” has allowed us to diagnose previously undiagnosed illnesses and identify outbreaks, an otherwise historically slow process. Such was the case of Leptospirosis that was observed in Baltimore in the mid-1990s, which went unrecognized until better diagnostic tools became available, and revealed the likely “true” prevalence of the disease.
Decision 1082/2013/EU has already contributed significantly to the improvement of health security in the European Union and the protection of the Union’s citizens from communicable diseases through the implementation and integration of solutions such as the EWRS, TESSy, MEDISYS, etc. and the clarification of methods of cooperation and coordination between the various actors at Union level including the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and the Health Security Committee (HSC). However, management of this type of crisis remains an incredible challenge due to the many actors involved, the different legal, administrative, professional and political cultures, and the lack of transboundary crisis management structures. As a result, the typical challenges that emerge in any crisis situation are exacerbated. In a cross-border arena, it becomes harder to detect threats, understand current circumstances and make joint decisions, especially when affected countries do not share borders, further exacerbated when they are outside the EU, where EU solutions do not operate. Moreover, due to the uneven economic development of some member states and regions in Europe, pandemic management systems are given low political priority. It becomes clear, thus, that some needs and challenges related to pandemic response still remain unmet. STAMINA aims to contribute to this crucial effort by focusing on providing solutions for the preparedness and response phases of the emergency management cycle.
STAMINA Vision: STAMINA aspires to enable a paradigm shift in pandemic crises management and enhance health security in Europe and beyond by providing practitioners with novel, easy-to-use tools which will facilitate capacity-building and cross-border cooperation at national and regional levels.