Europe needs generic response plan to pandemic threats, expert says

Disease specific plans utilized by most European countries could cost precious time and resources, a study about gaps in pandemic preparedness has revealed.

“Countries and organisations invest enormous resources in developing plans for specific diseases, which may not even present a threat in the future,” the authors of the study, representing public health institutions in Denmark, the UK, Germany and Finland said. “Having a generic PPP [pandemic preparedness plan] in place would save resources.”

Rather than planning for specific diseases, public health scientists, modellers and policy experts for nine EU countries said, a generic plan that can be tailored to specific incidents should be created.

“New pathogens, originating either naturally or from bioterrorism, will continue to emerge and cause new public health emergencies,” Ahmed Syed wrote this week in Global Public Health.

The so-called generic plan would use traditional, basic infection-control measures, including quarantine and contact tracing, to create a core preparedness and response program that could be modified as the emerging disease becomes more understood.

The participants in the recently released study, which followed two written interviews with 38 experts from 22 European countries and face-to-face meetings, covered 13 policy areas.  The participants in the study “were national experts in the field of infectious diseases who were working at senior levels nationally and internationally, and represented their country on the Advisory Forum of the European Centre for Disease Control [ECDC],” Syed told EHTF News.