18 May A new era for health emergency preparedness in Europe? EGHRIN and LERU publish article in The Lancet
18 May 2021. In a correspondence article published yesterday in The Lancet, The League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the European Global Health Research Institutes Network (EGHRIN) outline how Europe should take a leading position globally in developing a comprehensive and timely response to health emergencies.
On Friday 21st May, the Italian Presidency of the G20 and the European Commission will co-host the Global Health Summit to share lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss how best to tackle future crises. No doubt many of the various initiatives already announced by the European Commission to tackle future health emergencies will be discussed, including the proposed European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA).
The exact form of the HERA is still unknown. While its initial focus could be on stockpiling, in their correspondence article, LERU and EGHRIN outline how the HERA should eventually take the form of a complete end-to-end authority which streamlines initiatives in the area of health preparedness and response, and builds upon the competencies already in place through bodies such as the European Centre for Prevention and Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The authors suggest that HERA should adopt a five-pronged bundled model for health emergency preparedness, working in close collaboration with existing EU and relevant non-EU agencies. In this way, HERA would promote technological innovation, promote policy development and implementation, carry out horizon scanning and develop education and training activities to ensure that the skills needed for future health emergencies are already in place when needed.
As LERU and EGHRIN acknowledge, this five-pronged model is vitally dependent upon two additional cross-cutting elements; enhanced engagement with non-EU and low-middle income countries, and promoting the role of universities and research institutes in contributing to the HERA.
Professor Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General of LERU said that ‘Research-intensive universities are uniquely placed to contribute to the HERA by promoting the necessary multi-, inter-and transdisciplinary knowledge which is so vital to solving the complex and multifactorial health emergency issues of the future’.
Simone Villa, from the University of Milan, a member of both LERU and EGHRIN, and lead author of the correspondence article added: ‘HERA can play a key role in reshaping how preparedness and response plans are developed and implemented. Universities, and networks such as EGHRIN, can act as the point of junction for several sectors bridging the gap between disciplines involved in quality and sustainable preparedness and response strategies to complex health emergencies like pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, and climate change.’
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) is a well-established network of research-intensive universities. They develop and disseminate their views on research, innovation and higher education through policy papers, statements, meetings and events helping to shape policy at the EU level.
The League is a valued interlocutor for the European institutions and other policy stakeholders. It acts as a strong, outspoken voice of European research-intensive universities on a wide range of topics related to EU policies and initiatives.
The European Global Health Research Institutes Network (EGHRIN) is a new network of leading research institutions in Europe to promote and advocate for Global Health research and innovation. EGHRIN unites 23 leading research groups and associated members throughout Europe. EGHRIN facilitates and strengthens equitable collaboration among the network’s institutes and their global partners on high-quality research and provides knowledge insights that can inform improvements in health systems, including the development of cost-effective innovations for long-term sustainability of health care systems worldwide. In addition, EGHRIN is engaged beyond the health sector to advocate in favor of health through reaching out to other sectors and disciplines in full alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework’s call of integration and indivisibility for sustainable development in any sector.
For further information:
Remko van Leeuwen, Secretariat Lead, EGHRIN.