UN General Assembly hears call for worldwide pandemic warning system — Global issues

Participants in a panel titled, Challenges and opportunities in creating a global pandemic early warning systemwarned on Tuesday that we are seeing the dismantling of essential infectious disease surveillance programs, at a time when climate change is posing greater risks to public health.

Any platform will need to include data from outside of traditional public health epidemiologyspecifically about climate-affected land and water use changes,” Jim Golden, Data Director of the Pandemic Prevention Initiative at the Rockefeller Foundation, told an audience of Member States. members, Observers and Civil Society Organizations.

Reset ‘data charity’

I call “data philanthropy”, a concept that refers to private companies that share data for the public goodand new logistics of how that data is stored and shared in a “sovereign” and fair manner.

Data sovereignty is linked to data security and refers to the idea that data is subject to the laws and governance structures of the country where the data is collected.

“We need a new global digital partnership”, Dr. Golden said. “A global network of researchers connected through an open source data science platform capable of quantifying, modeling and ultimately solving every climate and health problem in every region. scale.”

Also speaking during the panel, Niamh O’Hara, CEO and co-founder of medical technology company Biotia, emphasized the importance of a “linked system” of data, especially for international collaboration, where insights are connected and data sovereignty is preserved.

More data streams

Dr O’Hara said: “Any early warning system benefits from including genomics combined with other data streams, such as land use and climate factors.

She talks about some of the projects she is involved in, among them the one that checks bird droppings and conducts virus surveillance in migratory bird hotspots in Chile. She also cites data collection on co-infection of malaria and other viruses in patients, in rural communities in Nigeria.

About 17 percent of all infectious diseases are vector-borne, meaning they transmit pathogens between people or between animals.

Such transmission is exacerbated by climate change and land useRafael Maciel-de-Freitas, a public health researcher at the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz (Brazil) and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Germany).

Zika in Brazil

He points to the transmission of Zika in Brazil, which is suspected to have been introduced into the country in 2013. Since then, more than 1,700 infants have been diagnosed with congenital Zika syndrome.

While chemicals, pollution or malnutrition could be factors, Dr Maciel-de-Freitas said an early warning system could include combining data and identifying areas of microbiology. tissues with a higher incidence of Zika disease and microcephaly in infants – unusually young children. head, related to disease.

One of his current projects is to develop an early warning system to identify outbreaks of dengue fever – another mosquito-borne viral disease – on the border of Argentina and Paraguay.

The panelists also discussed An early warning system for bacteria and antibiotic resistance could save millions of lives.

Soojin Jang, Head of the Antibiotic Resistance Lab at the Pasteur Institute in Korea, said one of her projects included researchers taking samples from toilets at hospitals, universities, markets and public spaces. community to look for pathogens in the community and more broadly. scale, to test the level of antimicrobial resistance.

Antibiotic resistance monitoring

“Targeting antibiotic resistance can also benefit from an early warning system,” says Dr. Jang, adding that multiple layers of data need to be included, especially from local sources. neighborhood and community.

The concern is not the lack of data, the scientist said. More than 5,000 pieces of information are analyzed daily and interpreted by analysts around the world, according to Maria Almiron, Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Unit at WHO Americas Regional Office.

She noted that there are opportunities for a global early warning system to help identify future outbreaks and pandemics, as well as challenges.

While new technologies may be used, such as artificial intelligence, it is ultimately the availability of skilled people to work together that determines the quality of the data and may have immediate barriers due to lack of political will or limited financial resources.

Trust and communication

In any early warning system, cooperation, trust and timely communication are key,” Dr. Almiron called for the modernization of information systems to improve the quality and availability of data.

The workshop is the third part of a full-day scientific press conference convened by the President of the General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi.

During other briefings, member states heard prominent scientists and academics discuss water economics, climate, conflict and cooperation.

Since taking office, President Kőrösi has stated one of his priorities for 77order The General Assembly session will bring proven science and data into the policy-making process.

The General Assembly currently has three of the 16 mandated processes, or workflows, focused on health. These include pandemic preparedness, Universal Health Coverage, and Tuberculosis.


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