To better prepare and protect the world from global disease threats, H.E. German Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General, will today inaugurate the new WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, based in Berlin.
“The world needs to be able to detect new events with pandemic potential and to monitor disease control measures on a real-time basis to create effective pandemic and epidemic risk management,” said Dr Tedros. “This Hub will be key to that effort, leveraging innovations in data science for public health surveillance and response, and creating systems whereby we can share and expand expertise in this area globally.”
The WHO Hub, which is receiving an initial investment of US$ 100 million from the Federal Republic of Germany, will harness broad and diverse partnerships across many professional disciplines, and the latest technology, to link the data, tools and communities of practice so that actionable data and intelligence are shared for the common good.
The WHO Hub is part of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme and will be a new collaboration of countries and partners worldwide, driving innovations to increase availability of key data; develop state of the art analytic tools and predictive models for risk analysis; and link communities of practice around the world. Critically, the WHO Hub will support the work of public health experts and policy-makers in all countries with the tools needed to forecast, detect and assess epidemic and pandemic risks so they can take rapid decisions to prevent and respond to future public health emergencies.
“Despite decades of investment, COVID-19 has revealed the great gaps that exist in the world’s ability to forecast, detect, assess and respond to outbreaks that threaten people worldwide,” said Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergency Programme. “The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence is designed to develop the data access, analytic tools and communities of practice to fill these very gaps, promote collaboration and sharing, and protect the world from such crises in the future.”
The Hub will work to:
- Enhance methods for access to multiple data sources vital to generating signals and insights on disease emergence, evolution and impact;
- Develop state of the art tools to process, analyze and model data for detection, assessment and response;
- Provide WHO, our Member States, and partners with these tools to underpin better, faster decisions on how to address outbreak signals and events; and
- Connect and catalyze institutions and networks developing disease outbreak solutions for the present and future.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, currently Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, has been appointed to lead the WHO Hub. WHO would like to acknowledge the Nigerian government for its support, which ensures strong leadership for this important initiative.
The WHO Hub is currently operating from a centre provided by the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. It will soon move to a permanent campus at the heart of Berlin in Kreuzberg that will provide a collaborative work environment for the Hub’s staff, who will represent a wide range of disciplines.
“All the work that goes into pandemic and epidemic preparedness must occur before an outbreak starts,” said Dr Tedros. “Data linkage and analysis, and the ability to better detect and assess risks of disease events in their earliest stages before they amplify and cause death and societal disruption, is what the WHO Hub will focus on. WHO is grateful that partners like Germany and Chancellor Merkel are joining the world on this necessary path.”
Operational Considerations for Infection Prevention and Control in Outpatient Facilities: non-U.S. Healthcare Settings
At its third meeting, the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce on COVID-19 (MLT), the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization - met with the leaders of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), Africa CDC, Gavi and UNICEF to tackle obstacles to rapidly scale-up vaccines in low- and lower middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, and issued the following statement:
“The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is progressing at two alarmingly different speeds. Less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50% in high‑income countries.
These countries, the majority of which are in Africa, simply cannot access sufficient vaccine to meet even the global goals of 10% coverage in all countries by September and 40% by end 2021, let alone the African Union’s goal of 70% in 2022.
This crisis of vaccine inequity is driving a dangerous divergence in COVID-19 survival rates and in the global economy. We appreciate the important work of AVAT and COVAX to try and address this unacceptable situation.
However, effectively tackling this acute vaccine supply shortage in low- and lower middle-income countries, and fully enabling AVAT and COVAX, requires the urgent cooperation of vaccine manufacturers, vaccine-producing countries, and countries that have already achieved high vaccination rates. To ensure all countries achieve the global goals of at least 10% coverage by September and 40% by end-2021:
- We call on countries that have contracted high volumes of vaccines to swap near-term delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT.
- We call on vaccine manufacturers to immediately prioritize and fulfill their contracts to COVAX and AVAT, and to provide regular, clear supply forecasts.
- We urge G7 and all dose-sharing countries to fulfill their pledges urgently, with enhanced pipeline visibility, product shelf life and support for ancillary supplies, as barely 10% of nearly 900 million committed doses have so far been shipped.
- We call on all countries to eliminate export restrictions and any other trade barriers on COVID-19 vaccines and the inputs involved in their production.
We are in parallel intensifying our work with COVAX and AVAT to tackle persistent vaccine delivery, manufacturing and trade issues, notably in Africa, and mobilize grants and concessional financing for these purposes. We will also explore financing mechanisms to cover future vaccine needs as requested by AVAT. We will advocate for better supply forecasts and investments to increase country preparedness and absorptive capacity. And we will continue to enhance our data, to identify gaps and improve transparency in the supply and use of all COVID-19 tools.
The time for action is now. The course of the pandemic—and the health of the world—are at stake.”
The pandemic continues to highlight a pressing need to use social and behavioural data alongside biomedical data to mount an effective response. Timely data and insights into people’s changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours helps to ensure that the response is tailored and adapted to the needs of the population.
Due to the rapidly evolving situation, many countries are facing challenges in the availability of accurate and up-to-date social and behavioural data. In response to this situation, WHO has developed the “Social and Behavioural Insights COVID-19 Data Collection Tool for Africa”. The tool can be used by WHO Country Offices, NGOs, universities or other groups interested in capturing quantitative and qualitative social and behavioural data.Access the Tool
A victim/survivor-centered approach must be central to all work on preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. This was the key message of the UN Victims’ Rights Advocate Jane Connors who visited WHO’s new PSEAH team at our Geneva Headquarters.
Ms Connors held a meeting with the WHO’s Chef de Cabinet, Dr Catharina Boehme and Director of PRSEAH, Dr Gaya Gamhewage and team members on 23rd August, 2021. Later in the day she was joined virtually by Senior Victims’ Rights Advocates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Haiti amongst other members of her team to discuss support to and collaboration with WHO for PSEAH work.
The Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate (OVRA) seeks to put the rights and dignity of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN staff and related personnel at the forefront of the UN’s prevention and response efforts. They work together with all entities of the UN system so that victims get the assistance and support they need. They also work in collaboration with Government institutions, civil society, and including national and legal and human rights organizations to build networks of support and help ensure that the full effect of local laws, including remedies for victims, are brought to bear.
Ms Connors emphasized that having a dedicated person on the ground tasked to see that victims’ rights are prioritized, someone victims trust, and to whom they can turn to seek assistance and advocate on their behalf makes a real difference. Her office provides a variety of services to victims of SEA, regardless of the status of investigations into complaints and allegations. Field Victims’ Rights Advocates receive safely complaints and refer safely victims to the services they need and support the development of livelihood projects funded by the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. The support offered to victims or survivors includes medical assistance, psychosocial support, livelihood support, and school fees, school support packages as well as legal aid for paternity and child support for children born out of SEA.
Several ideas for collaboration between OVRA and WHO’s PRSEAH team were identified: better collaboration between focal points from the two entities in high-risk countries; collaboration on joint training including psycho-social first-aid, and leveraging WHO technical experts to support victims and survivors of SEA.