Avoiding the next pandemic, what role for Europe?
On March 29th 2022, Friends of the Global Fund Europe hosted a webinar entitled “Avoiding the next pandemic, what role for Europe?”.
Two panels of speakers shared insights on the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic and the array of challenges confronting efforts to build a more resilient global health architecture for pandemic preparedness responses (PPR).
Christoph Benn, a Board member of Friends for the Global Fund Europe, introduced the webinar by emphasizing the scale and scope of the shock that Covid-19 has had across the global health space.
Michel Kazatchkine, a member of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), presented the group’s key observations and conclusions. Pr Kazatchkine highlighted that past pathogen outbreaks had not sparked sufficient action on preparedness, despite consistently clear recommendations and the adoption of legally-binding regulations.
Anne Bucher stressed that the challenge before us is to identify how to mobilize the will to implement recommendations and lessons learned. Anne Bucher highlighted recent advances of the EU in collaboration on health both within and beyond its border, noting that Europe’s own pandemic preparedness can contribute a building block of global pandemic preparedness.
Raji Tajudeen, speaking on behalf of the African Central for Disease Control (ACDC), presented the lessons learned and the priorities identified by African leadership in public health. Raji Tajudeen emphasized the importance of political leadership and the coordination between the African Union and the ACDC; he noted that Covid-19 demonstrated that regional entities have a critical role to play in PPR.
The Global Fund’s Executive Director, Peter Sands, presented a vision of five points that emphasized how future PPR capacity must be integrated into the capacity to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria (HTM). In noting the overlapping dimensions of HTM/PPR responses and the fact that the HTM pathogens also constitute pandemics, Mr. Sands stressed that we must not distinguish PPR capacity from HTM capacity.
In the second panel, three speakers provided national perspectives on the dynamics and implications surrounding investments in PPR. Charles Goerens guided the discussion with a series of questions.
Bjorn Kummel of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health (Acting Head of the Unit for Global Health) began by highlighting that the current moment unique and temporary. Mr. Kummel emphasized that there is great need for reforms and there is small window of opportunity.
Gareth Jenkins, Director of Advocacy at Malaria No More UK, noted that the framing of pandemic risk is important. Mr. Jenkins added that the PPR / global health is one of several issues on a global agenda juggling multiple crises., a point that echoed the concern expressed by several speakers that sustained political prioritization of pandemic preparedness cannot be taken for granted.
Joan Valadou, Head of Human Development at the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, highlighted the French government’s commitments to the Global Fund, Covid, and One Health. Mr. Valadou also noted the importance of inclusive partnerships that empowered stakeholders to be more involved in designing solutions.
Following Joan Valadou’s intervention, Bjorn Kummel noted the strong alignment of the German and French governments on global pandemic preparedness priorities.
Stefano Vella concluded the webinar by emphasizing common threads that emerged across speakers: the importance of regional entities, the transversal role of health system strenghtening / community systems, the synergies in building capacity on major existing pathogens and preparation against novel ones, and the underlying foundation of trust and equity.