UN General Assembly hears call for worldwide pandemic warning system
Members of the panel under the heading, Challenges and Opportunities for Establishing an Early Warning System for Global Pandemicson Tuesday warned that we are witnessing the dismantling of essential infectious disease monitoring programs at a time when climate change is leading to greater public health risks.
“Any platform will need to include data outside of traditional public health epidemiology.especially changes in land use and water use that are affected by climate,” said Jim Golden, director of data for the Pandemic Prevention Initiative at the Rockefeller Foundation, to an audience of member states, observers and civil society organizations.
Reset “Data Charity”
He called “data philanthropy”, a concept that refers to private companies that share data for the public good.and the new logistics of how this data is stored and distributed in a “sovereign” and fair manner.
Data sovereignty is related to data security and refers to the idea that data is subject to the laws and governance structures of the country in which it was collected.
“We need a new global digital collaboration”Dr Golden said. “A global network of researchers connected through an open source data science platform capable of quantifying, modeling and ultimately solving any climate and health problem at any scale.”
Also speaking at the panel, Niamh O’Hara, CEO and co-founder of medical technology company Biotia, highlighted the importance of a “federal system” of data, especially for international collaboration, where ideas are linked and data sovereignty is maintained..
More data streams
“Any early warning system benefits from the inclusion of genomics in conjunction with other data streams,” Dr. O’Hara said, such as land use and climate factors.
She spoke about some of the projects she is involved in, including screening bird droppings and conducting virus surveillance in bird migration hotspots in Chile. She also mentioned the collection of data on co-infection with malaria and other viruses in patients in rural communities in Nigeria.
About 17 percent of all infectious diseases are transmissible, meaning they carry pathogens between humans or between animals and humans.
Such a transfer is exacerbated by climate change and land usesaid Rafael Maciel de Freitas, public health researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, Fiocruz (Brazil) and the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Germany).
Zika in Brazil
He pointed to the transmission of the Zika virus in Brazil, which is believed to have been introduced into the country in 2013. Since then, more than 1,700 newborns 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 collecting data and identifying micro-regions with a higher incidence of Zika and neonatal microcephaly — an abnormally small size. child’s body. heads associated with illness.
One of his ongoing projects is developing an early warning system to detect outbreaks of dengue fever, another mosquito-borne viral disease, on the border between Argentina and Paraguay.
The panellists also discussed early warning systems for bacteria and antibiotic resistance as interventions that could save millions of lives.
Sujin Jang, head of the antibiotic resistance laboratory at the Pasteur Institute in Korea, said one of her projects involves collecting samples from toilets in hospitals, universities, markets and other public places to find out what types of pathogens exist in communities and , more broadly. scales to check levels of antibacterial resistance.
Antibiotic resistance tracking
“The fight against antibiotic resistance can also benefit from an early warning system,” said Dr Jang, adding that multilevel data needs to be included, especially from local and public sources.
According to scientists, the problem is not a lack of data. According to Maria Almiron, Head of Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment at WHO Regional office for America.
She noted that the global early warning system has the capacity to detect future outbreaks and pandemics, as well as problems.
While new technologies such as AI can be used, data quality will ultimately be determined by the availability of skilled professionals working together and there may be immediate hurdles due to a lack of political will or limited funding.
Trust and Communication
“In every early warning system, cooperation, trust and timely communication are key.Dr. Almiron called for the modernization of the information system to improve the quality and availability of data.
The panel discussion was the third of a lengthy scientific briefing convened by the President of the General Assembly, Chaba Kyoryoshi.
At other briefings, Member States heard renowned scientists and academics discuss water economics, climate, conflict and cooperation.
Since taking office, President Kyoryoshi has stated that one of his priorities for the 77thth the session of the General Assembly will embed science and evidence in policy making.
The General Assembly currently has three of the 16 approved health processes or work streams. These include pandemic preparedness, global health coverage and tuberculosis.