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One Health network for the prevention of vector-borne diseases around the Mediterranean and Sahel regions

> Project I Context


Among biological threats, dangerous communicable diseases are of increasing concern for the international community. In the current context of global environmental changes and globalization of trade and travel, public interest in emerging zoonotic diseases has increased. Indeed, these conditions have already had profound effects on the distribution of human and animal diseases, and it is an inevitable reality that continually evolving climatic parameters will further transform the ecology of numerous pathogens.

Considering that the majority of emerging threats are zoonotic, and many of them include vector(s) in their transmission cycle, a country's capacity to effectively respond to these threats is dependent on the coordinated involvement of multiple actors from a variety of sectors and at different levels of implementation. Only early detection of these viruses can prevent possible relevant epidemics. In particular, the incidence of diseases caused by arboviruses (arthropod-borne viruses) in humans and in a wide range of domestic and wild animals has conquered new geographical areas, posing a threat to human and animal health due to the epidemic and zoonotic potential of many of them.

As the ability to stop the spread of pathogens relies on the capacity of countries to detect unusual events early and to rapidly implement control measures, every country should have the technical and operational capacity to detect and manage an epidemic as soon as it may appear as requested by the International Health Regulations (IHR). However, very often, national public health institutions suffer from a lack of resources and trained work force to deal with biological health challenges and the risk of propagation of an epidemic to several countries is significant. A more coordinated and harmonized surveillance and preparedness to outbreaks in the European neighbouring region is necessary, especially as pathogens and diseases do not respect borders. Therefore, a regional and multidisciplinary approach to strengthen public health capacities (both human health and animal health) in this geographical area is paramount. Groups need to collaborate in an integrated manner that includes diagnostic tools and surveillance, study of vectors, public awareness, capacity building, risk assessment and infrastructure in endemic regions. Appropriate measures must be set-up to facilitate and reinforce collaboration and coordination within and across sectors and countries.

The One Health framework provides a new forum for public health and veterinary communities, and is a platform on which to build partnerships with a broader range of disciplines to develop solutions for preventing and responding to zoonotic disease threats.

The MediLabSecure project “Preventing Vector Borne Diseases around the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions by creating new networks” (2014-2018) was conducted in the frame of the CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative.

Coordinated by the Institut Pasteur and implemented by five European partner institutes (INIA, Institut Pasteur, IRD, ISS, Avia-GIS), the MediLabSecure multidisciplinary network has been successfully growing since its beginning in 2014. Many actions have been implemented to strengthen awareness, risk assessment, monitoring and control of emerging vector-borne viruses with a “One Health” approach.

Given the successful results achieved so far, and in line with the demand from beneficiary countries to continue with this initiative, funding was allocated for a second phase of the project, the European Commission is supporting a second phase of the project for three additional years, until 2021, in order to ensure the network sustainability .

Originally focused on the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, the geographical area of the network is now extended to 5 Sahel countries. Furthermore, to provide a more comprehensive and holistic picture of the situation, veterinary services will be included within the network, as well as a new technical component, integrating environmental and ecological features in the development of emerging infections’ risk assessment and early warning tools.

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