Contributing to preparedness plans at the local, regional and global levels has become a key priority for the Policy and Global Development team

The COVID-19 pandemic was a stark reminder that, despite numerous warnings, the world remains largely unprepared to respond to a global health crisis in a coordinated, rapid and effective manner. “The pandemic has taught us that coordination is essential, from the local to the global level,” says Rafael Vilasanjuan, Director of Policy and Global Development.

With this in mind, a hybrid research and policy team has been working to bring together the existing expertise, capacities and networks to create an institutional hub on preparedness, response, recovery and resilience (PR3) that takes into account the wide variety of hazards that could lead to a public health crisis.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” –Benjamin Franklin

Setting the stage

Throughout 2022, the team undertook a series of activities that will help position ISGlobal in the preparedness arena. A workshop with experts, practitioners and decision-makers discussed how to best incorporate lessons from past environmental and health crises into an ‘all-hazards’ preparedness plan. A series of policy papers analysed the stakes of the forthcoming International Pandemic Treaty and the One Health approach in Spain and Europe. The Ibero-American Epidemiological Observatory, launched in 2021 to strengthen responses to health crises in the region, has several partners on board, including ISGlobal. Finally, team members are actively involved in two new projects related to preparedness. ENDVOC, funded by the EU, will support effective pandemic responses by tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants worldwide and providing regulatory and policy recommendations for future pandemics. PANTHER, of which ISGlobal is a founding member, aims to establish an African network of researchers and centres capable of detecting outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases and conducting clinical trials in both urban and remote areas, thereby preventing these outbreaks from becoming pandemics.

“We want to develop a comprehensive approach to PR3 that contributes to the global effort to prevent the next public health tragedy,” says Gonzalo Fanjul, Director of Policy.

Photo: WHO, Pierre Albouy