Diseases and health threats

In an increasingly interconnected world, both humans and animals are increasingly threatened by communicable diseases and health threats, including zoonoses, as evidenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit FEAM’s COVID-19 hub page with information about activities by FEAM, national member academies, sister network academies, and partners.

Key challenges such as increasing antibiotic resistance, climate change, and emerging and re-emerging diseases, call for global and European systems to support surveillance and early warning. They also call for multidisciplinary research and multi-sectoral cooperation.

FEAM has supported a One Health approach to address these challenges by connecting research and supporting cooperation between human and animal health, and environmental research. One Health calls for the integration of data and research coming from different disciplines and wider cooperation between different sectors (e.g. animal and human health, agriculture, environment).

Infectious Diseases

The Future Infectious Disease Threats to Europe: A Foresight Approach project has been contracted by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) to better understand emerging infectious diseases, the factors that shape their emergence and transmission, and the scenarios that the agency should be prepared to confront in the future. The consortium leading this study is composed by Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, Center for European Policy Studies, Austrian Institute for Technology and FEAM. The role of FEAM is to establish links with leading experts from the health and medical fields and contribute with its own extensive expertise in infectious diseases. 

This study will examine the medium-term time-horizon (3-8 years) of the emerging infectious diseases (EID) threat spectrum in a manner that draws in multiple streams of contemporary and relevant research into activities focused on the development of plausible scenarios and prevention and control policy options for future infectious disease mitigation. This project will draw on expertise from the ECDC and a diverse network of specialists from public health systems, biomedical R&I fields, and infectious disease research to identify and address current shortfalls in the ECDC’s preparedness for future EID threats. This process will use an array of foresight methods and activities to help build strategies to build a robust and resilient system for the detection, identification, and responsiveness to potential future EID events. This system will also include capacity building for continuous future-oriented research and monitoring activities as part of an integrated foresight capacity for the ECDC. 

The 2.5-year project started in January 2022 with major milestones being the production of 3 major reports and the facilitation of 2 expert workshops. The reports will include 1) an in depth analysis of the micro- and macro-scale drivers of change that are shaping the EID landscape, 2) a set of scenarios that distils possible future situations into narratives for strategy building, and 3) a collection of proposals and recommendations for the ECDC and associated ministries and policy branches within the European Union. 

The two experts’ workshop are scheduled for autumn 2022 and early 2023. The focus of the first workshop is to vet drivers of EID in Europe and to generate the core components defining the alternative health scenarios and critical actors for building up prevention and control capacities. During the second workshop, experts from a variety of relevant disciplines, views, and sectors will help develop scenarios over the next 3 to 8 years that are useful for assessing the resilience of the current EU public health system. 

If you are interested in the project and would like to collaborate, please contact Emma Martinez, FEAM Senior Scientific Policy Officer: emma.martinez@feam.eu  

Vaccination

In April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Council Recommendation and a Communication on Strengthened Cooperation against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. FEAM has contributed to current debates on the challenges of vaccination, including through a commentary on the EC Roadmap on Vaccination (in cooperation with EASAC), a Conference with Member Academies on Vaccination: Scientific and social perspectives, and discussion with other stakeholders through the FEAM Forum event Vaccination challenges and EU cooperation: what is the way forward?

In 2019, the European Commission convened a Coalition for Vaccination to bring together associations of healthcare workers and students´ associations across the EU. The Coalition supports the delivery of accurate information to the public, combating myths around vaccines and vaccination, and the exchange of best practices on vaccination.

The Coalition is currently composed of 25 partners, and co-chaired by the European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN), Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU), and the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME).

FEAM is an Associated Member of the Coalition.

For all past publications and activities on diseases and health threats, including on Mental Health, One Health, Vaccination, and more, see publications and events below.

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