Feb 18 2016 Posted: 08:57 GMT

NUI Galway Researcher leads meeting of experts in Brussels on Pandemic Research Project

Global experts on pandemics and emergency management are meeting in Brussels today (Wednesday, 17 February). The workshop is organised by NUI Galway’s Professor Máire Connolly and is part of the Pandemic Risk and Emergency Management (PANDEM) project.

PANDEM aims to identify research needed to strengthen pandemic surveillance, communications and governance in the European Union. The 2-day workshop seeks to find better ways to identify and respond to potential pandemic threats to Europe. The recent appearance of the Zika virus in the Americas, followed by the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, has posed new challenges making the issues being discussed even more relevant.

Professor Connolly said: “This project is timely given international concerns about the current Zika outbreak, the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa and MERS-CoV in Asia and the Middle East. We don’t know when the next pandemic will occur, or where it will emerge. What we do know is that there is vital work which can be done in terms of preparing for such an event.”

PANDEM is funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The project brings together public sector and private sector groups including NUI Galway, the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium, the World Health Organisation, the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, and IGS Strategic Communications, London.

The 18 month project is bringing together experts from Europe and the United States in health, security, defence, information technology, communications and law for a workshop in Brussels from 17-18 February. They will analyse current threats and review existing capacity for risk assessment and surveillance in Europe, as well as the capacity of European countries to respond to a potential pandemic. They will also be reviewing communications capacity, governance and legal frameworks to help ensure they are ready to respond to a potential crisis.

-ENDS-

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