With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading around the world, a World Health Organisation (WHO) backed centre for pandemic and epidemic intelligence has opened in Berlin, German.
The hub’s mission is to provide the world with better data, analytics, and help decision makers to detect and respond to health emergencies in time.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus have commissioned the centre.
“The world needs to be able to detect new events with pandemic potential and to monitor disease control measures on a real-time basis to create effective pandemic and epidemic risk management,” said Dr Tedros.
“This Hub will be key to that effort, leveraging innovations in data science for public health surveillance and response, and creating systems whereby we can share and expand expertise in this area globally,” WHO boss added.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, has been appointed to lead the WHO Hub.
The WHO Hub, which will get an initial financing of US$100 million from Germany, will harness broad and diverse partnerships across many professional disciplines, and the latest technology, to link the data, tools and communities of practice so that actionable data and intelligence are shared for the common good.
The Hub is part of WHO’s health emergencies programme and will be a new collaboration of countries and partners globally, driving innovations to increase availability of key data; develop state of the art analytic tools and predictive models for risk analysis; and link communities of practice around the world.
Critically, the WHO Hub will support the work of public health experts and policy-makers in all countries with the tools needed to forecast, detect and assess epidemic and pandemic risks so they can make rapid decisions to prevent and respond to future public health emergencies.
“Despite decades of investment, Covid-19 has revealed the great gaps that exist in the world’s ability to forecast, detect, assess and respond to outbreaks that threaten people worldwide,” said Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergency Programme.
“The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence is designed to develop the data access, analytic tools and communities of practice to fill these very gaps, promote collaboration and sharing, and protect the world from such crises in the future.”
The hub is billed to enhance methods for access to multiple data sources, vital to generating signals and insights on disease emergence, evolution, and impact.
It will also help develop state of the art tools to process, analyze, and model data for detection, assessment and response to pandemic outbreaks.
Further, the centre will provide WHO, member states, and partners with these tools to underpin better, faster decisions on how to address outbreak signals and events; and connect and catalyze institutions and networks developing disease outbreak solutions for the present and future.
“All the work that goes into pandemic and epidemic preparedness must occur before an outbreak starts,” noted Dr Tedros.