Response to Emerging infectious disease: Assessment and Development of core capacities and tools
The EU coordinated response to communicable diseases has experienced major challenges in the past. Differences in public health preparedness and response, which have repeatedly been seen within the EU, are difficult to explain to EU citizens and result in delayed public health interventions. The project focuses on areas of generic response which are crucial for international cooperation for the prevention of international spread of infectious diseases, and where the necessities of a European effort to develop a common basis for action have been identified.
REACT will assess existing and generate new evidence. In the framework of the project, the partners will establish tools and best practices, and will in part define core capacities for four specified areas that are likely to be applicable and acceptable throughout the EU: (1) enhanced surveillance during international mass gathering events; (2) surveillance of infectious diseases in healthcare workers; (3) implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR): Reporting from local to intermediate/national level; and (4) international contact tracing after exposure to infectious disease.[+] Read More
The more persons, goods and media information that move within Europe, the greater the need for improved and coordinated response to infectious diseases within the European Union. Different responses to similar health threats in various EU countries are likely to negatively affect the acceptance of the general public and the compliance by health professionals. One of the major reasons for the differences is that the evidence does not yet exist or has not yet been critically assessed.
So far, there are no procedures available to assist individual countries to decide what core capacities are needed for the implementation of enhanced surveillance of infectious diseases during a specific mass gathering event. Only a few reports on validated surveillance systems for healthcare workers (HCWs) focusing on infectious diseases that are likely to cause outbreaks have been published. Close surveillance of HCWs is an important source of information on emerging pathogens with a serious public health impact.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has to be notified of events that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern. The decision instrument in Annex 2 of the IHR can be used as a guide for assessing events. It is up to the Member States to construct systems for detecting and reporting focal points and events that need to be assessed to the national IHR. Little evidence is available on the risk of infectious diseases transmission in conveyances other than aircrafts. Consequently, there is no guidance on when and to what extent contact tracing of passengers should be initiated.
REACT seeks to provide evidence and tools towards a common European standard for the response to emerging public health threats that are likely to be applicable and acceptable throughout the EU, for responding rapidly and coordinately to public health threats in Europe. The project addresses specific areas where harmonised best practices and tools are not in place, but where the need for EU-level harmonisation has been identified. These areas are crucial for international cooperation on the prevention of the global spread of infectious diseases.
The project will provide instruments and tools to detect and respond to public health threats in the following areas:
The products of REACT will help advance the integration of the surveillance of infectious diseases as a component of the management of mass gathering events by the event organisers. The surveillance of outbreaks in HCWs is an important tool for the recognition of exposure to a new pathogen at an early stage in an emergency. The guidance given for local health authorities with regard to the reporting of IHR relevant events will facilitate the implementation of the IHR in a harmonised manner throughout Europe. Providing the scientific basis for the necessity of contact tracing in ground travel conveyances might be a basis for recommendations of the EC.