Networking, Training, Socio-Economic and Legal Isues
This heterogeneous chapter includes projects that put influenza research into a wider context - be it the context of other related diseases, the development of networks, the link between science and policy and/or the social and legal context of the disease.
EPIZONE and VIRGIL are large Networks of Excellence with a broad-based mission to integrate Europewide efforts to 'improve research on preparedness, prevention, detection and control of epizootics' and to 'achieve common research objectives in the area of antiviral drug resistance', respectively. Both networks tackle highly important and topical problems and include major components of influenza: in EPIZONE as one of the most important epizootics, and in VIRGIL as a disease for which resistance to common antiviral drugs is increasingly being reported and might present a major problem in the case of a pandemic. FLU-LAB-NET is a smaller Coordination Action exclusively focusing on influenza with the goal of strengthening the network of Community Reference Laboratories and National Reference Laboratories for this disease. Improving the sharing of methodological, virological, genetic, epidemiological and clinical information on influenza will deliver a much needed research base for these laboratories with the key task of providing fast and reliable information to public health authorities, policy makers and citizens in the case of outbreaks.
HEALTHY POULTRY aims to serve policy makers by providing science-based decision support with regard to epizootic poultry diseases. The development of new integrated prevention and control strategies as well as their dissemination via platforms of experts, decision makers and stakeholders should help to construct this important bridge between research and the application of its result in public policy.
ConFluTech and FLUTRAIN both provide training and technology transfer in the field of avian influenza to experts in affected resource-poor countries. Since the vast majority of recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks were located in China and Southeast and Central Asia, capacity building in these countries is essential to control the disease at its source.
Two recently launched projects supported by the EU Public Health Programme target the social and legal context of influenza: ECORAIP aims to provide practical information and guidelines on how best to target the rural population most likely to be in direct contact with the epizootic. A key goal is to customise public health information campaigns to populations in different regions. PHLawFlu consists of two components, one of which will develop a network of interdisciplinary expertise in public health law, while the other will focus on disease preparedness specifically in the case of human pandemic influenza and prepare an inventory of European public health laws pertaining to this problem. One important goal will be to detect inconsistencies and regulations that do not take into account modern public health evidence.
This last chapter of the present catalogue thus provides examples of the connections and interdependencies between influenza research and a number of other areas. Related scientific fields such as other infectious diseases or more remote disciplines like social sciences or law frequently make important contributions to the implementation of research results, be it through public policy, training and technology transfer or awareness raising and information campaigns.